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“VOT of Voiced Stop Consonants in Spanish and Persian”


&quotVOT of Voiced Stop Consonants inSpanish and Persian&quot

&quotVOT of Voiced Stop Consonants inSpanish and Persian&quot


The current study is existedto measure the voice onset time (VOT) of voiced stop consonants inSpanish and Persianand also to compare the VOT between both languages in voiced stopconsonants. I focus onthis study on the voiced stop consonants which are produced by nativespeakers of Persian and Spanish which are the labial /b/, alveolar/d/, and velar /g/.Because the VOT is one of the most important phonetic features todistinguish between voiceless and voiced consonants, I attempt tomeasure VOT of voiced stop consonants in both languages todistinguish betweendifferent productions. Theduration of the VOT were measured by spectrogramsfor three native speakers in each language. The six speakers wererecorded fivewords in each consonant.Surprisingly, the current study indicates that the Spanish data showsstrong voicing, so it is negative VOT and the Persian data shows novoicing, so it is positive VOT. However, Spanishhas an average VOT of ()and Persian has anaverage VOT of ().

  1. Introduction.

In this paper, I focus on VOT of the voiced stop consonants inSpanish and Persian defining focusing on racialization. I attempt tocompare the length of time from the release of a plosive to the onsetof the following vowel in both languages todistinguish the differences in their phonetic features. However, VOTcan be positive, negative or zero VOT.

  1. Literature review.

The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is said to be a completerepresentation of the sounds of the world’s languages. However, theIPA cannot show every phonetic feature and accent of a language whichmakes it difficult to distinguish between two sounds that share thesame place and manner of articulation and defines the structure. Tomake a distinction between these types of sounds in differentlanguages, phoneticians use a variety of phonetic features such asvoicing, aspiration, and implosion however, certain temporal aspectsof speech are not so easily represented,even though they can affect the accent of a speaker(Krauskopf, 2015). One of these aspects is Voice Onset Time(VOT), which is defined as the number ofmilliseconds (ms) between the release of the stop and the beginningof voicing. VOT is used to differentiate between voiced and voicelessstop consonants in different languages. Moreover, VOT is asignificant cue to measure acoustic features through wordsstates that VOT is an observational testused to distinguish between sounds that are produced similarly indifferent languages, as well as to distinguish voicing of stopsoccurring word-initially.

  1. Persian Voiced Stops.

The Persian language has twenty-three consonant phonemes. Theconsonants exhibit a contrastive stress and also a consonant clusterwhich has a final syllable (Talattof, 2015). However, it has an allophonic variation with alveolar stops /d/ and/t/ (Hualde, Olarrea, &amp O`Rourke, 2012).The language does not have syllables which have initial consonants,unlike the Spanish language. However, the consonants areaspirated at the end of each syllable(Heine &amp Narrog, 2015). The aspiration is not high.

The voice onset times obtained from themale and female Persian speakers do not differ significantly from oneanother. Particularly, in the Persian language, the consonantsinclude the consonantal sounds /b/, /p/, /d/, /t/, /g/, /k/ and /G/.However, the VOT of the Persian consonants has changed with time forexample in the VOT of classical Persian is different from the modernpronunciation (Hassler &amp Volkmann, 2011).The alveolar flap /r/ has been observed to have a thrilledallophonic variation at the beginning.

  1. Spanish Voiced stops.

In Spanish the VOT of voice stop consonants includes phonemes whichare /b/, /d/ and /g/. They are known as labial, alveolar and velarrespectively. They bring more voicing before they are released thanin English. They are referred to as approximants when they presentedwith no undertaking arealso called fricatives when are used in all places excludingafter a pause, after a nasal consonant or in the case of a /d/following a lateral consonant (Brookshaw &ampShabani-Jadidi, 2010). The phonemes /ʝ/ is referred to as anapproximant except when used after a pause, a lateral or a nasal(Lacorte, 2014). It these situations it is also known as anaffricate. The above consonants have a more voicing before they arereleased than the same consonants in Persian. Note thatSpanish and Persian differ by the VOT of the consonants although theyhave similar voice stop consonants (Baker &ampHengeveld, 2012). Particularly the consonant /b/ is -110ms inPersian VOT which shows the voiced stops in Spanish. They arevoiced before their release incomparison to the English stops. However, the Persian voice stops arenot voiced before they are released.

  1. The current study.

In this study, I will focus on VOT in Persian and Spanish especiallyin consonants /b/, /d/ and /g/. However, the aim of this study tomeasure the different VOT values for the three consonants /b/, /d/and /g/ in the two languages and to find if they are produceddifferently since these consonants have the same manner and place ofarticulations.


The study focuses on three native speakers ofeach language the six members are bothmale and female between the ages of 18 to 43. The three Spanishspeakers were all born in Mexico, and thethree Persian speakers were born in Iran,and then, they moved to the United Statesfor many years ago with their family. The first language of Spanishspeakers is Spanish, and the mothertongue of Persian language is Persian. Participants are bothspeak Persian as a second language. Additionally, the participantsshowed that they use their mother tonguefrequently on a daily.


The list of fifteen words wasgiven in each language. The first five words contained /b/word-initially, the second five words contained /d/ word-initiallyand the third five words contained /g/ word-initially.


The six participants in this study were asked to read a list offifteen words naturally and only once time. Voice Record applicationfor a smartphone was used to record theirvoice while they were reading the fifteenwords. Also, the participants in each language were asked to answersome questions such as their linguistic background, their age, and ifoften they use their native language on daily or not.


The collected data was analyzed by usingPraat software to measure the VOT value ofeach consonant for each speaker and also to determine the adversestops from the positive for each speaker. I was very careful throughthe data analysis to know each consonant in each language if thevocal sound starts before the burst, after,or at the same time. I used a separatespectrogram to measure each speaker’s data, andthe average was taken to get an approximate VOT for each consonantfor the three speakers in each language.


Baker, A. E., &amp Hengeveld, K. (2012).Linguistics.Chicago: John Wiley &amp Sons.

Brookshaw, D. P., &amp Shabani-Jadidi, P. (2010).The Routledge Introductory Persian Farsi Shirin Ast. Chicago:Routledge. The civilization

Hassler, G., &amp Volkmann, G. (2011). Historyof Linguistics 2008. New York: JohnBenjamins Publishing.

Heine, B., &amp Narrog, H. (2015). TheOxford Handbook of Linguistic Analysis.Chicago: Oxford University Press.

Hualde, J. I., Olarrea, A., &amp O`Rourke, E.(2012). The Handbook of HispanicLinguistics. New York: John Wiley &ampSons.

Krauskopf, J. (2015). Jewsand Moors in Spain. Chicago: M.Berkowitz &amp Co.

Lacorte, M. (2014). TheRoutledge Handbook of Hispanic Applied Linguistics.New York: Routledge.

Talattof, K. (2015). PersianLanguage, Literature, and Culture: New Leaves, Fresh Looks.New York: Routledge.