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Acoustic cue weighting in the singleton vs geminate contrast in Lebanese Arabic: The case of fricative consonants
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This paper is the first reported investigation of the role of non-temporal acoustic cues in the singleton-geminate contrast in Lebanese Arabic, alongside the more frequently reported temporal cues. The aim is to explore the extent to which singleton and geminate consonants show qualitative differences in a language where phonological length is prominent and where moraic structure governs segment timing and syllable weight. Twenty speakers (ten male, ten female) were recorded producing trochaic disyllables with medial singleton and geminate fricatives preceded by phonologically short and long vowels. The following acoustic measures were applied on the medial fricative and surrounding vowels: absolute duration; intensity; fundamental frequency; spectral peak and shape, dynamic amplitude, and voicing patterns of medial fricatives; and vowel quality and voice quality correlates of surrounding vowels. Discriminant analysis and receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curves were used to assess each acoustic cue's contribution to the singleton-geminate contrast. Classification rates of 89% and ROC curves with an area under the curve rate of 96% confirmed the major role played by temporal cues, with non-temporal cues contributing to the contrast but to a much lesser extent. These results confirm that the underlying contrast for gemination in Arabic is temporal, but highlight [+tense] (fortis) as a secondary feature.
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