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The velar plosives /k/ and /g/
quickinfo

Features
A possible feature specification of  /k/ is -sonorant, -voice, -labial, -coronal, +velar, -continuant.

Phonotactic behaviour
/k/ can occur in onset clusters of one or two consonants, such as in 1a and 1b respectively. Its use in triconsonantal clusters is limited to a number of loanwords from English such as 1c and 1d. Furthermore, it can occur in simple and complex codas, such as in 2a and 2b respectively.

Example 1

Onset
a. kas greenhouse
b. krap tight
c. scratch scratch
d. scrabble scrabble
Example 2

Coda
a. tak branch
b. kerk church

Alternation with /g/
/g/ is usually considered to be not a phoneme of Dutch, although it does occur in some loanwords. Furthermore, /k/ can turn into [g] after voicing assimilation as in zak-doek za[gd]oekhandkerchief.

Features
A possible feature specification og /g/ is -sonorant, +voice, -labial, -coronal, +velar, -continuant.

Phonemic status
/g/ is usually considered to be not a phoneme of Dutch, although it does occur in some loanwords. Furthermore, its voiceless counterpart /k/ can turn into [g] after voicing assimilation as in zak+doek za[gd]oek handkerchief so that /g/ definitely plays a role as an allophone in the Dutch sound system.

Phonotactic behaviour
As g occurs (rarely) in a handful loanwords, it is difficult to establish its precise distribution. Most examples involve simple onsets: garage, goal. The sound does not occur in codas because of final devoicing.

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[+] Articulatory information

Dutch /k/ is a voiceless and /g/ a voicedvelarplosive. Dutch plosives are plain unaspirated.

Velar
Speech sounds produced at velar place of articulation, between palatal and uvular. See the human speech organs.

Plosive
Consonant involving complete closure between the articulators, followed by a rapid release.


Figure 1: The human speech organs

[click image to enlarge]

[+] Acoustic information

Dutch /k/ is a voiceless and /g/ a voicedbilabialplosive. Dutch voicelessplosives have a voice onset time (VOT) of around 20 msec.

Velar
  • in obstruents, noise or noise bursts characterised by a concentration of energy in the middle of the spectrum (with F2 and F3 relatively close together)
  • in nasals, indicated by the presence of a low spectral peak (around 250 Hz) and no considerable spectral valleys until above 2kHz

Plosive
  • consonant involving a silent phase, followed by a brief noise burst

[+] Examples

Table 1: Soundfiles, waveforms and spectrograms of the above sound files, with indications of the relevant acoustic parameters of Northern Standard Dutch /k/
wordgroup phonological context soundfile waveform/spectogram
kaas word-initial
[click image to enlarge]
maken intervocalic
[click image to enlarge]
taak word-final
[click image to enlarge]

Table 2: Soundfiles, waveforms and spectrograms of the above sound files, with indications of the relevant acoustic parameters of Southern Standard Dutch /k/
wordgroup phonological context soundfile waveform/spectogram
tomaten en verse kaastomatoes and fresh cheese word-initial
[click image to enlarge]
iedereen kan soep makeneverybody cam make fresh soep intervocalic
[click image to enlarge]
tegen zijn taakagainst his task word-final
[click image to enlarge]

Table 3: Soundfiles, waveforms and spectrograms of the above sound files, with indications of the relevant acoustic parameters of Northern Standard Dutch /g/
wordgroup phonological context soundfile waveform/spectogram
een gata hole word-initial
[click image to enlarge]
twee dagen latertwo days later intervocalic
[click image to enlarge]

Table 4: Soundfiles, waveforms and spectrograms of the above sound files, with indications of the relevant acoustic parameters of Northern Standard Dutch /g/
wordgroup phonological context soundfile waveform/spectogram
gat in het dakhole in the roof word-initial
[click image to enlarge]
de laatste dagenthe last days intervocalic
[click image to enlarge]
[+] More detail

/k/ exhibits the variation in place of articulation expected with varying vowel contexts: [k˖] before front vowels, [k̘] before back vowels. /g/ is a marginal phoneme that occurs in a small number of loanwords. [g] also occurs as an allophone of /k/, in clusters with a following voicedplosive, i.e. regressive voice assimilation. This may in fact not become a fully voiced but a “devoiced lenis” stop(Collins and Mees 2003).

The first stop in a medial cluster across a syllable boundary (as in tactiek/tɑk.tik/[tɑkˈtik]tactics, stokbrood/stɔk.brod/[ˈstɔgbrot]baguette) is often unreleased, or the release takes place into the closure of the following stop(Collins and Mees 2003).

References:
  • Collins, B. & Mees, I2003The Phonetics of English and DutchLeidenE.J. Brill
  • Collins, B. & Mees, I2003The Phonetics of English and DutchLeidenE.J. Brill
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