Objective:

Up to now, a thorough phonetic-acoustic and phonological description of the vowels and the vowel system of Standard Austrian German has not been provided.

Method:

Approximately 11,000 vowels of three female and three male speakers of Standard Austrian German have been segmented and analyzed acoustically.

Results:

Standard Austrian German discerns 13 vowels on five constriction locations:

  • pre-palatal for the /i/ and the /y/ vowels
  • mid-palatal for the /e/ and the /ø/ vowels
  • velar for the /u/ vowels
  • upper pharyngeal for the /o/ vowels
  • lower pharyngeal for /ɑ/

Each vowel pair consists of a constricted and an unconstricted vowel. The front vowels (pre-palatal and mid-palatal) additionally distinguish rounded and unrounded vowels. The following articulatory features sufficiently discriminate all vowels:

  • [± constricted]
  • [± front]
  • [± prepalatal]
  • [± pharyngeal]
  • [± round]

Contrary to general assumptions, F1 and F2 do not sufficiently discern the vowels of Standard Austrian German; F3 is necessary as well. Discriminatory ability is maintained over all speaking styles and prosodic positions.