a1 University of Leeds
This paper reports on a phonetic and phonological study of /t/-affrication in spontaneous British English Received Pronunciation. The study is motivated by the uncertainty surrounding plosive affrication in the literature on lenition and fortition. We suggest that a decision as to the status of a given pattern involving affrication in terms of lenition or fortition should be based on thorough phonetic and phonological analysis. We present a phonetic and phonological account of /t/-affrication, which takes into consideration the temporal and spectral characteristics of the sounds involved, as well as their distribution across phonological environments. Crucially, we compare affricated instances of /t/ with aspirated and fricated ones in the same dataset – the former arguably unmarked in this variety, the latter uncontroversially the result of lenition. We argue that the phonetic and phonological characteristics of /t/-affrication presented in this paper are consistent with an account in terms of fortition rather than lenition.
* We are grateful to Paul Carter, Barry Heselwood, three anonymous reviewers and the associate editor for comments on earlier versions of this paper. We wish to thank audiences at the 19th Manchester Phonology Meeting and at the Department of Linguistics and English Language, University of Manchester for helpful discussion, in particular Ricardo Bermúdez-Otero and Colin Ewen.