On the Voiced-Voiceless Distinction in Stops of English

  • Published : 2002.03.01


Phonologically, the difference between the English stops /b, d, g/ and /p, t, k/ is carried by the presence or the absence of the vocal fold vibration throughout their oral closure phase. If phonology has its foundation in phonetics, there must be phonetic evidence for the voiced-voiceless distinction. This study is aimed to determine whether or not the voiced-voiceless distinction is acceptable or proper in English. The determination was based mainly on findings in the existing literature and in informal experiments. In conclusion, there is no phonetic evidence for the voiced-voiceless distinction both in production and perception. The [voice] appears to be one of potential phonetic correlates of the phonologically voiced stop. It is improper to use the [voice] as independent phonological marker, regardless of position (word-initial, intervocalic, word-final). A feature other than the voiced-voiceless feature must distinguish /b, d, g/ from /p, t, k/.