Final Consonants and Glottalization: New Perspectives from Hanoi Vietnamese
Phonetica: International Journal of Phonetic Science
The evolution from final obstruents to final glottal stop and then to rhyme glottalization (i.e. from /at/ to /aʔ/, then to /aˀ/) is a well-established general trend in the history of the Sino-Tibetan language family and beyond. It has further been shown by laryngoscopy that in three languages which retain the nonreleased syllable-final obstruents /p/, /t/ and /k/ (Standard Thai, and two Chinese dialects), these obstruents are often accompanied by a glottal stop. The present research raises the
... issue whether there is another typological possibility: can non-released final obstruents be accompanied consistently by modal phonation, without glottal stop? Analysis of electroglottographic recordings of 126 syllables in two carrier sentences spoken by four speakers shows that, in Hanoi Vietnamese, the final obstruents /p/, /t/ and /k/ are not accompanied by glottalization, and that the open quotient increases in the course of the syllable rhyme. Obstruent-final rhymes (which may carry either of two tones: D1 or D2) are compared with nasal-final rhymes which, under one of the tones (tone B2), are confirmed to be glottalized. Our finding is that tones D1 and D2 (i.e. obstruent-final rhymes) are both produced in modal voice, which shows that the typological paradigm of observed realizations of syllable-final obstruents must be enlarged. The discussion puts forward the hypothesis that the unusual association of segments and voice quality found in Hanoi Vietnamese is a strategy to maintain the opposition between B2-tone and D2-tone rhymes.