Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 10 : 5 May 2010
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.
         S. M. Ravichandran, Ph.D.



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Variation of Voice Onset Time (VOT) in Kannada Language

Manjunath. N., M.Sc. (Speech and Hearing) Candidate
Sneha Mareen Varghese, M.Sc. (Speech and Hearing) Candidate
Narasimhan. S .V., M.Sc. (Speech and Hearing)


Speaking rate changes during normal conversation alters the duration of acoustic properties that specify phonetic segments (Summerfield, 1975). One such acoustic property which is affected by speaking rate is Voice Onset Time (VOT). As most of the studies on VOT are in English and therefore, do not provide sufficient data for generalization to other languages, the present study was planned to investigating the changes in VOT for voiceless and voiced stop consonants in Kannada language (a south Indian Dravidian Language) across different speaking rates.

A total of 20 Kannada speaking young adults, age ranging from 18 to 24 years participated in the study. A set of six phrases were constructed, which were meaningful and they had voiceless & voiced sounds in initial position of the words. Subjects were asked to read the phrases at three different speaking rates. The flashlight from a metronome was used to help the participants to maintain the speaking rate and all the utterances were acoustically analyzed for VOT.

Results revealed that, VOT values were higher at slower speaking rates and lower at faster speaking rates. These results are consistent with the earlier studies by Volaitis & Miller (1992). The results are also discussed in relation to the speech motor control with reference to the 'Target undershoot Model' by Lindblom (1963). The changes in VOT across speaking rates can also be attributed to the changes primarily in dynamic specification of gesture of articulators.


Voice onset time (VOT) is the interval between the release of a stop consonant occlusion and the onset of the vocal fold vibration and is measured from acoustic displays as the time between the release burst and the first quasi periodicity in the acoustic signal (Lisker and Abramson, 1964; Keating, 1984; Klatt, 1975). There are three different types of Voice onset time. First, Zero VOT, it is the onset of vocal fold vibration coincides (approximately) with the plosive release. And the second one is Positive VOT, in this there is delay in the onset of vocal fold after the plosive release (Lag VOT). The third one is, the negative VOT, in which the onset of vocal fold vibration precedes the plosive release (Lead VOT).

VOT has been found to be an effective means to distinguish between voicing categories in oral stops. Studies have consistently shown the voiceless plosives /p/, /t/, /k/ to have long positive VOT'S in the range of 30 to 100 msec (English) and 1 to 45 msec (Kannada). In voiced plosives /b/, /d/, /g/ have negative VOT's in the range of -100 to 0 msec (English) and -126 to -60msec (Kannada). Thus the value of VOT is a good indicator for voiced and voiceless stops and also plays a large role in perceptual discrimination of phonemes of the same place of articulation. However, earlier investigations have shown that VOT is affected by language (Lisker & Abramson, 1964, 1967; Ravanan, 1993), age (Menyuk & Klatt, 1975) and gender (Ravishankar, 1981).

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Manjunath.N., M.Sc. (Speech and Hearing) Candidate
Department of Speech-Language Pathology
J.S.S. Institute of Speech and Hearing
Karnataka, India

Sneha Mareen Varghese, M.Sc. (Speech and Hearing) Candidate
Department of Speech-Language Pathology
J.S.S. Institute of Speech and Hearing
Karnataka, India

Narasimhan S.V., M.Sc. (Speech & Hearing)
Corresponding Author
Department of Speech-Language Pathology
J.S.S. Institute of Speech and Hearing
Karnataka, India

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