The phonological representation of affricates: a cross-linguistic study
09 / 2008 - 09 / 2012
My research deals with the mental, or phonological, representation of one particular type of sounds: affricates. Affricates are complex sounds, like the initial and final consonant sounds in the English word judge. The articulation of an affricate starts with a complete obstruction of air in the vocal tract, which has to be released subsequently. In this respect, affricates are similar to plosive consonants. However, in the case of affricates, the obstructed air is released through a relatively narrow passage, which causes audible friction, as in the case of simple fricatives. This latter aspect differentiates affricates from normal stops. Nevertheless, the length of an affricate equals the time of a simplex consonant. Although the phonetic realization of affricates is unproblematic, their phonological representation is highly debated. Affricates seem to behave either as stops or fricatives, and different analyses have been proposed in the existing literature, describing affricates either as simplex or as complex elements depending on the language in question.