The English contrast between fortis (i.e., /p t k/) and lenis plosives (i.e., /b d g/) is widely considered to depend on the presence or absence of aspiration. English is thus generally thought of as an “aspirating language,” as opposed to a “voicing language.” This thesis describes a study in which English listeners from across Canada rated Marathi plosives and provides results contradicting the analysis of English as an aspirating language. Native listeners of an aspirating language would be expected to rate Marathi voiceless unaspirated and voiced aspirated stops as respectively lenis and somewhat fortis-like. However, these English listeners rated them as respectively ambiguous and somewhat lenis-like. This suggests that voicing and aspiration are of similar importance to one another, contradicting the view that English is an aspirating language and, further, suggesting that English speakers may be better positioned to learn non-native laryngeal contrasts than has been thought.
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Thesis advisor: Yeung, Henny
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