Document Type


Publication Date



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics


This paper reports the results of an English experiment on vowel-shortening in different contexts. The data concern compression effects, whereby, in syllables with a greater number of segments, each one of the segments is shorter than in syllables with fewer segments. The experiment demonstrates that the amount of vowel compression found in English monosyllabic words depends in part on which consonants occur adjacent to the vowel in that word, how many consonants occur, and in which position they occur. Consonant clusters drive more vowel shortening than singletons when they involve liquids, but not when they involve only obstruents. Clusters involving nasals drive shortening relative to singletons only in onset position. We suggest that the results cannot be reduced to general principles of gestural overlap and coordination between consonants and vowels, but instead require a theory with overt representation of auditory duration.

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