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Cross-Linguistic Bracing : Analyzing Vertical Tongue Movement

Yadong Liu, Felicia Tong, Dawoon Choi, Bryan Gick


Bracingdescribes a tongue posture in which the tongue is in contact with the vocal tract surface. Lateral bracing,in particular, refers to when the sides of the tongue contact the roof of the mouth, along either the upper molars or hard palate. Previous research has found evidence of lateral bracing in six native speakers of different languages [Cheng et al. 2017. Canadian Acoustics45(3), 186-187]. The current study examines lateral bracing cross-linguistically at a larger scale using ultrasound technology to image tongue movement. We tracked and measured the magnitude of vertical tongue movement at three positions (left, right, and middle) over time using Flow Analyzer [Barbosa, 2014. J Acoust Soc Am, 136(4), 2105-2105]. Preliminary results across all six languages, including Cantonese, English, French, Korean, Mandarin and Spanish, show that the sides of the tongue are more stable than the center and stays at a relatively high position in the mouth. The magnitude of movement at the sides are significantly smaller than the center of the tongue. Further, releases of the sides vary in frequency for different languages. Taken together, this gives evidence that bracing is a physiological fact about speech production irrespective of the language spoken.

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