Aspiration of any sort is not generally considered a phonetic cue to phonological stop contrasts in standard Italian (e.g. fatto 'done' v. fato 'fate'). Nonetheless, based on a large-scale corpus of spoken Italian from 15 cities (n=1407), this paper presents acoustic phonetic evidence of optional preaspiration for geminate voiceless stops. Given the fact that degemination has occurred in some regional varieties included in the sample, the paper considers whether preaspiration should be interpreted as weakening or strengthening of the geminate voiceless stop series. It outlines the relevant cross-linguistic evidence before presenting the main acoustic results, which show significantly shorter closure durations and longer VOTs when preaspiration occurs. Preaspiration shows no clear regional patterns but is linked specifically to prosodic prominence in these data. A higher-order temporal measure to which native listeners attend is also more robust for stops produced with preaspiration. These results, part of an ongoing study, are interpreted as supporting the treatment of preaspiration as an enhancement of the voiceless geminate stop series in standard Italian.
Selected Proceedings of the 5th Conference on Laboratory Approaches to Romance Phonology
edited by Scott M. Alvord
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