ISF Gastvortrag von Chiara Celata, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa

23rd of January 2015


Seminarroom, ground floor, Wohllebengasse 12-14, 1040 Wien

Rhotics (or /r/-sounds) pose numerous problems to phonological theories and phonetic descriptions. Among the most problematic features, often excluded from the classification of rhotics, are voicelessness (rhotics are generally classified as voiced sounds) and obstruency (as opposed to continuancy). Indeed, multi-modal articulatory studies allowing the simultaneous investigation of tongue-palate contact, lingual shape and glottal activity show that, for certain variants, voicelessness cannot be thought of as contextual de-voicing; rather, it is likely to be inherent in the articulatory and aerodynamic planning of rhoticity production. Similarly, fine-grained examinations of tongue-palate constriction patterns show that the lingual gesture necessary for producing taps implies the presence of both a vocoid and a turbulent release. The data presented comes from current experiments on Italian and Italo-Romance varieties. Additionally, they will be discussed with reference to a functionalist sociophonetic approach, in which the speakers adapt their articulatory behavior to the communicative and indexical needs of maintaining or suppressing salient pronunciation features.