Effects of word position and flanking vowel on the implementation of glottal stop: Evidence from Hawaiian

Lisa Davidson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Much of the literature on the phonetic realization of phonemic or allophonic glottal stop has shown that it is often not produced with full glottal closure. Some studies of languages like English or German suggest that full glottal closure might be more likely in stressed syllables or positions of prosodic prominence (Garellek, 2014; Kohler, 1994), but the conditioning factors in the realization of contrastive glottal stop are less well understood. This study focuses on Hawaiian, which has phonemic glottal stop that is contrastive in both word-initial (/ʔaka/ ‘laugh’ vs. /aka/ ‘shadow’) and word-medial position (/pua/ ‘flower’ vs. /puʔa/ ‘to excrete’) (Parker Jones, 2018). Glottal stop realization is examined with respect to three factors: word position, different vs. identical flanking vowel (/puʔa/ ‘to excrete’ vs. /puʔu/ ‘hill’), and duration of the target /V(#)ʔV/ sequence. Recordings from the Ka Leo Hawaiʻi Hawaiian language radio program that aired from 1972 to 1988 were examined. Results show that the majority of phonemic glottal stops are produced as a period of creaky voice, most often in a modal voice-creaky voice-modal voice configuration, but also as modal-creaky or creaky-modal. Full glottal stops were more likely in word-initial position, and identical flanking vowels led to longer periods of creaky voice. Shorter target intervals led to longer proportions of creaky voice. These findings for phonemic glottal stop are consistent with research on the timing of contrastive voice quality in vowels, which has shown that modal-nonmodal-modal patterns are preferred to ensure that vowel quality, voice quality, and tone (for languages with all three) are recoverable (Silverman, 1995/1997). The effects of word position and flanking vowel are also related to recoverability and segmentation. The potential articulatory configurations common to glottal stops and creaky voice which may explain why they are on a continuum are also discussed.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number101075
    JournalJournal of Phonetics
    StatePublished - Sep 2021


    • Creaky voice
    • Gestural timing
    • Glottal stops
    • Hawaiian
    • Word position

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Language and Linguistics
    • Linguistics and Language
    • Speech and Hearing


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