Effects of lexical stress and speech rate on the quantity and quality of Slovak vowels

Stefan Beňuš, Dep. of English and American Studies, Constantine the Philosopher University Nitra, Institute of Informatics, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava
Katalin Mády, Institute of Phonetics and Speech Processing, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich

We investigate the relationship between vowel quantity and the utilization of formant space in Slovak, and how prosodic variation in speech rate and lexical stress marking affects this relationship. Slovak presents a typical five-vowel system with full phonemic quantity contrast for all vowels in all positions. We found that 1) phonemic quantity contrast in Slovak is salient and minimally affected by lexical stress and speech rate, and 2) shortening due to phonemic contrast and destressing but not due to speech rate, are accompanied by vowel space contraction. We compare the results to geographically neighboring languages Czech and Hungarian that display similar prosodic characteristics to Slovak.