Macquarie University
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Phonetic characterization of a complex coronal system: insights from Punjabi

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posted on 2022-03-28, 19:32 authored by Qandeel Hussain
Punjabi is an Indo-Aryan language that has contrastive retroflex and dental series. However, very little is known about the phonetic and phonological properties of the retroflexand dental stops in Pnjabi, and whetherthese are fully contrastive in all word-positions. The aim of this dissertation in therefore to investigate the phonetic properties of the Punjabiretroflex and dental stops across word-positions using temporal and spectral measures. Among the world's languages, stops are the most frequently occurring manner of articulation (Schwartz, Boe, Badin, & Sawallis, 2012). Their acoustic cues in Indo-Aryan languages are yet to be fully investigated. Punjabi has a singleton vs. geminate opposition within the manner class of stops. In this dissertation, I examine the place contrasts only for the singleton retroflex and dental stops. However, I also provide an overview of the singleton vs.geminate opposition to show that the difference between these two classes of stops is one of duration, and not a manner opposition. Firstly, an introduction to the phonemic inventory of Punjabi is provided, followed by the temporal characteristics of the word-medial Punjabi singleton and geminate stops. After that, the contrast between Punjabi singleton retroflex and dental stops is investigated in detail, across word-positions (word-medial, word-initial and word-final positions). Finally, these insights are applied to better understand the nature of loanword adaptation, showing how English alveolar /t/ and Punjabi speakers' productions of source loanword /t/ align with Punjabi native retroflex and dental categories. For this purpose,Australian English (AusE) productions of alveolar stop /t/ and loanword /t/ were compared with native Punjabi retroflex and dental stops. The findings suggest that Punjabi singletons differ from geminates in terms of both consonant duration and the duration of the following vowel. The results also suggest that Punjabi coronal place contrasts are signaled by the complex interaction of temporal and spectral cues. In the loanword study, the loanword /t/ was acoustically more similar to Punjabi retroflex than dental stops. On the other hand, the comparisons of the AusE alveolar /t/ and Punjabi retroflex stop indicate no clear patterns of acoustic similarities. This suggests that AusE /t/ played little role in explaining the adaptation of English alveolar stops as retroflexes in Punjabi. This dissertation will therefore help inform the phonetic and phonological processes underlying coronal contrasts in the native and loanword phonologies of Indo-Aryan languages.The detailed phonetic analyses of Punjabi will also contribute to the growing body of crosslinguistic literature on the phonetics of coronals.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction -- Chapter 2: Punjabi (Lyallpuri variety): Illustrations of the IPA -- Chapter 3: Temporal characteristics of Punjabi word-medial singletons and geminates -- Chapter 4: Acoustic characteristics of Punjabi retroflex and dental stops -- Chapter 5: Adaptation of English word-final alveolar stops into Punjabi -- Chapter 6: General discussion.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: 182-186

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Lingustics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Katherine Demuth

Additional Supervisor 1

Mark Harvey

Additional Supervisor 2

Michael Proctor


Copyright Qandeel Hussain 2017. Copyright disclaimer:




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