The role of gesture duration in the initial unstressed vowel shift in Galician. A first approximation


  • Alba Aguete Cajiao Instituto da Lingua Galega (Universidade de Santiago de Compostela)



Galician, vowel height, language change, Galician vowel shift


This study examines a change in the Galician vowel system. This change has been described as the phonologization of the distinction between low‑mid-low and mid-high vowels of Galician in unstressed pretonic position. The principal aim of this study is to test whether this distinction can be triggered by the longer duration of those initial vowels, favoured by the structure of the syllable and by the initial prosodic position. To verify this hypothesis, an articulatory simulation study with TADA and an acoustic study with native speakers of Galician were carried out. Since there are no studies in which the unstressed (neither initial nor medial) vowel system of Galician is examined in terms of acoustical properties, the first step was to determine whether it differs from the stressed vowel system and whether there is an acoustical opposition between mid-low and mid-high vowels in initial position. The results showed that there are significant differences between vowels in unstressed syllable and vowels in stressed syllable and also between the unstressed initial vowels /e/ and /ɛ/, and /o/ and /ɔ/. A linear relation between duration of the gesture and degree of distance between /o/ and /ɔ/ and between /e/ and /ɛ/ was found in the simulation study with TADA, and a significant relation between duration and height was found for /ɔ/ in the acoustic study.


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How to Cite

Aguete Cajiao, A. (2015). The role of gesture duration in the initial unstressed vowel shift in Galician. A first approximation. Loquens, 2(2), e022.