Language Diversity, Contact, and Change. June 14-16, 2019. University of Chicago Center in Beijing. Conference website: https://lucian.uchicago.edu/blogs/lpl/workshop/
Abstract: The phonetic realization of tonal contrasts in many languages involves not just fundamental frequency/pitch, but also phonation. For example, it is well known that Tone 3 in Beijing Mandarin (e.g., the word for horse) is often creaky, and that the falling ”g” tone in Hmong is known to be breathy. In this talk, I illustrate methods for studying the phonetics of phonation contrasts, with an emphasis on creak—from data collection to data analysis. I present empirical data on tonal contrasts involving creak in Cantonese, Hmong, and Beijing and Taiwan Mandarin. All of these languages and language varieties include tones that are both low in fundamental frequency/pitch and often creaky. But it is a mistake to think that this implies that there is a uniform phonetic characterization of the creaky tones across these languages and speakers of these languages. In fact, it is unclear that there is any single phonetic dimension that can effectively characterize the presence of creak in speech. Rather, there are phonetically distinct kinds of creak, although our understanding of these kinds of creak is still limited. Thus, in addition to discussing the phonetic characterization of the contrast between creaky and non-creaky phonation, I also discuss progress towards phonetic characterizations of distinct kinds of creak and what conditions variation in creak across speakers and languages in Cantonese, Hmong, and Beijing and Taiwan Mandarin.