Perception of geminates in Finnish and Polish

Author(s): Michael O'Dell and Zofia Malisz


Finnish and Polish subjects listened to four series of two-syllable stimuli varying in intervocalic consonant duration and judged them as short (singleton) or long (geminate). The four series differed in the duration of the flanking vowels. As predicted, perception shifted toward geminates for Finnish subjects when V1 was lengthened slightly, especially when V2 was also shortened to match normal Finnish production. The shift also occurred for Finnish subjects (to a lesser extent) when V1:V2 ratio was kept constant. Apparently any effect of lengthened stimuli on perceived tempo, expected to produce a geminate boundary shift in the opposite direction, was overruled by the V1-effect. We anticipated that Polish subjects might show a similar pattern in perception, given that, like Finnish, Polish also has slightly longer vowels before geminates. The Polish listeners did show a clear sensitivity to flanking vowel duration, but the observed shifts in geminate boundaries for the four stimulus series were almost exactly reversed compared to the Finnish subjects.