The assumption of minimal articulatory difference between members of nasal–oral vowel pairs deserves greater scrutiny. This study tests the hypothesis that members of nasal–oral vowel pairs share a common vocal tract configuration. Electromagnetic articulography is used to study the vertical position of the tongue and the labial aperture of nasal–oral vowel pairs produced by four speakers of Brazilian Portuguese. Significant differences were found for each vowel pair for at least one speaker, though considerable inter-speaker variation was evident. The most robust differences were tongue-body raising during the nasal vowels /ã/ and /u/. Because heavy nasalization tends to raise the perceived quality of low vowels, the lingual raising of /ã/ probably reinforces its nasality and contributes to the description of this vowel as [a]. Because nasalization tends to lower the perceived quality of high vowels, the nasality of /u/ may be counteracted by the observed lingual raising gesture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRomance Linguistics 2012
Subtitle of host publicationSelected papers from the 42nd Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL), Cedar City, Utah, 20-22 April 2012
EditorsJason Smith, Tabea Ihsane
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9789027268310
ISBN (Print)9789027203878
StatePublished - 2015
EventLinguistic Symposium on Romance Languages - Cedar City, United States
Duration: Apr 20 2012Apr 22 2012
Conference number: 42

Publication series

NameRomance Languages and Linguistic Theory
ISSN (Print)1574-552X


ConferenceLinguistic Symposium on Romance Languages
Abbreviated titleLSRL 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityCedar City

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics


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