Managing the distinctiveness of phonemic nasal vowels: Articulatory evidence from Hindi

Ryan Shosted, Christopher Carignan, Panying Rong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is increasing evidence that fine articulatory adjustments are made by speakers to reinforce and sometimes counteract the acoustic consequences of nasality. However, it is difficult to attribute the acoustic changes in nasal vowel spectra to either oral cavity configuration or to velopharyngeal opening (VPO). This paper takes the position that it is possible to disambiguate the effects of VPO and oropharyngeal configuration on the acoustic output of the vocal tract by studying the position and movement of the tongue and lips during the production of oral and nasal vowels. This paper uses simultaneously collected articulatory, acoustic, and nasal airflow data during the production of all oral and phonemically nasal vowels in Hindi (four speakers) to understand the consequences of the movements of oral articulators on the spectra of nasal vowels. For Hindi nasal vowels, the tongue body is generally lowered for back vowels, fronted for low vowels, and raised for front vowels (with respect to their oral congeners). These movements are generally supported by accompanying changes in the vowel spectra. In Hindi, the lowering of back nasal vowels may have originally served to enhance the acoustic salience of nasality, but has since engendered a nasal vowel chain shift.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-465
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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