Source characteristics of voiceless dorsal fricatives

Charles Redmon and Allard Jongman (2018)
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 144(1), 242-253
Paper: pdf

Aerodynamic and acoustic data on voiceless dorsal fricatives [x/χ] in Arabic, Persian, and Spanish were recorded to measure the extent to which such productions involve trilling of the uvula, thus exhibiting a sound source which, contrary to assumptions for voiceless fricatives, is mixed rather than aperiodic. Oscillation in airflow indicative of uvular vibration was present more often than not in Arabic (63%) and Persian (75%), while Spanish dorsal fricatives were more commonly produced with unimodal flow indicative of an aperiodic source. When present, uvular vibration frequencies averaged 68 Hz in Arabic and 67 Hz in Persian. Rates of uvular vibration were highly variable, however, and ranged between 40 and 116 Hz, with oscillatory periods averaging 4-5 cycles in duration, with a range of 1-12. The effect of these source characteristics on dorsal fricative acoustics was to significantly skew the spectral shape parameters (M1-M4) commonly used to characterize properties of the anterior filter; however, spectral peak frequency was found to be stable to changes in source characteristics, suggesting the occurrence of trilled tokens is not due to velar-uvular allophony, but rather is more fundamental to dorsal fricative production.