Typology of Vowel and Consonant Quantity in Southern German varieties: Acoustic, Perception, and Articulatory Analyses of Adult and Child Speakers

An extended investigation of the (in)stability of phonemic quantity in vowel plus consonant (VC) sequences in southern German varieties has provided new evidence (1) for the Bavarian VC timing system to be currently changing both in Austria and Germany primarily due to dialect levelling, (2) for the cross-generational stability of VC patterns in Swiss dialects, and (3) for the emergence of aspirated stops in younger speakers of Bavarian and Swiss dialects. It is a collaboration between the IPS (Munich), the ARI (Vienna), the OFAI (Vienna), and the Phonetics Laboratory (Zurich). We now explore issues related to the trajectory of a sound change from its origin to its spread, with foci on (1) the voicing contrast, (2) the experimental testing of specific hypotheses formulated in sound change theories such as the reweighting of acoustic cues and lexical diffusion, and (3) the exploration of potential spin-offs from basic research to speech technology. The present proposal embraces the opportunity to examine for the first time gradual apparent-time changes in the hierarchy of acoustic cues to the phonemic voicing contrast such as closure and aspiration duration, the release strength, and intrinsic perturbations of fundamental frequency (Cf0) during the process of phonological change while considering potential effects of regional intonation differences on Cf0. The main aim is to contribute to a better understanding of the time course of phonological change. The project has four specific aims: (1) to examine the development of trading relations between acoustic cues in diachronic change; (2) to further investigate how language contact and interaction trigger sound change by means of agent-based modelling; (3) to provide experimental evidence for the sound change in progress to be one of lexical diffusion; and (4) to expand the analyses to dialect synthesis. The innovation lies in the combination of phonetic analyses of speech production and perception data in the testing of linguistic theories, the application of computational methods to large-scale, cross-linguistic, apparent-time data (including data from older speakers and children), and the consideration of potential applications for speech technology. Interpolations between standard varieties from Austria, Germany and Swiss will give insights to perceptual clues of a speaker’s origin. Low resource data (recordings of dialect speakers) are investigated to be adapted so that a whole text-to-speech model is created with specific dialects and speaker characteristics. The proposed project links acoustic, perceptual, and computational methods for studying the production-perception-relation in speakers of different ages from Austria, Germany and Swiss for analyses of regional varieties. In the long-term the collaboration aims at the development of a model of linguistic (in)stability that integrates sociolinguistic and experimental phonetic data.


  • 2022, L. Gutscher, M. Pucher, Improving the quality of synthesized speech of a Viennese dialect speaker through speaker adaptation. ESSV 2022, 33rd conference on electronic speech signal processing, Denmark, March 2022
  • 2022, L. Gutscher, N. Klingler, M. Pucher, Einfluss von Entrauschungsverfahren auf die automatische Segmentierung mit WebMAUS. ESSV 2022, 33rd conference on electronic speech signal processing, Denmark, March 2022
  • 2022, Michael Pucher, Katharina Kranawetter, Eva Reinisch, Wolfgang Koppensteiner, Alexandra Lenz, Perceptual effects of interpolated Austrian and German Standard varieties. Speech Communication, April 2022.
  • 2022, Michael Pucher, On the sociolects of robots. HRI 2022 Workshop - Robo-Identity: Exploring Artificial Identity and Emotion via Speech Interactions, Sapporo, Japan (virtual).
  • 2022, Johanna Cronenberg, Nicola Klingler, Felicitas Kleber, Michael Pucher, On the role of asymmetry in prosodic change of consonant duration: Results from an agent-based model with two German varieties. Speech Prosody, Lisbon, Portugal.
  • 2021, Michael Pucher, Thomas Woltron, Conversion of airborne to bone-conducted speech with deep neural networks. Interspeech 2021, Brno, Czech Republic, pp. 1-5.
  • 2021, Nicola Klingler, Lorenz Gutscher, Michael Pucher, Einfluß der Entrauschung auf die automatische Segmentierung von historischen phonetischen Korpora mit MAUS. Phonetik und Phonologie im deutschsprachigen Raum (P&P) 2021, Frankfurt, Germany.
  • 2021, Jan Luttenberger, Nina Weihs, Michael Pucher, L-Velarization in Austrian German dialect. New Ways of Analyzing Variation (NWAV49), Austin, USA.
  • 2020, Michael Pucher, Nicola Klingler, Jan Luttenberger, Lorenzo Spreafico, Accuracy, recording interference, and articulatory quality of headsets for ultrasound recordings. Speech Communication, Volume 123, October 2020, pp. 83-97.
  • 2020, Carina Lozo, Michael Pucher, Revisiting nonstandard variety TTS and its evaluation in Austria. The Phonetician, Number 117, pp. 34-44, 2020.
  • 2019, Michael Pucher, Sylvia Moosmüller, Michaela Rausch-Supola, Aufnahme von authentischen Dialektdaten für die Verwendung in der Sprachsynthese. In S. Kürschner, M. Habermann, P. O. Müller (eds.), Methodik moderner Dialektforschung. Erhebung, Aufbereitung und Auswertung von Daten am Beispiel des Oberdeutschen. (pp. 105-123). Hildesheim: Olms. Germanistische Linguistik, 241-243/2019.

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