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Glottals and grammar: Definite article reduction and morpheme boundaries


By: Mark J. Jones

Definite Article Reduction (DAR) involves vowel-less forms of the definite article, usually a ‘glottal stop’ [ʔ], and is found across large parts of northern England. The present acoustic analysis of DAR investigates the acoustic correlates of the glottal form of DAR in the context high vowel + /s/. However, the glottal stop is also the realisation of a word-final /t/ before a following consonantal onset.

A second part of the experiment investigates whether there are production differences between the two kinds of glottal stop – one a realisation of the definite article preceded and followed by a morpheme boundary, and one a realisation of word-final /t/ followed by a morpheme boundary. The results show that speakers do distinguish the two sequences in production, but the effects are subtle and highly variable, both within and across speakers.

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