This paper deals with the articulatory nature of r+C clusters in Spanish and the perceptual relevance of the vocalic element, known as 'svarabhakti' vowel, that is often found in these sequences. It is assumed, on the basis of articulatory evidence, that the vocalic element is not the result of a deliberate process of vowel insertion, but rather a targetless segment that surfaces as a consequence of the articulatory transitions between the gestures for the 'r' and those for the following consonant. The perceptual relevance of these transitional elements was tested by means of an experiment in which subjects were asked to identify the r+C sequences after the duration of the vocalic elements was manipulated. Results suggest that the presence of the vocalic element, though it can increase the percent of correct 'r' identification, is not essential for the perception of these clusters, which in turn is taken as evidence that the vocalic element is best understood as the result of the temporal coordination of articulatory gestures.
Selected Proceedings of the 3rd Conference on Laboratory Approaches to Spanish Phonology
edited by Laura Colantoni and Jeffrey Steele
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