Unifying Initial Geminates and Fortis Consonants via Laryngeal Specification: Three case studies from Dunan, Pattani Malay, and Salentino


  • Francesco Burroni Cornell University
  • Raksit Lau-Preechathammarach University of California, Berkeley
  • Sireemas Maspong Cornell University




Initial Geminates, Fortis Stops, Dunan, Pattani Malay, Salentino


Initial Geminates (IGs) are often assumed to differ from singletons mainly in duration, while fundamental frequency (f0) and intensity are described as secondary, variable cues. Accordingly, IGs are phonologically represented with a [+long] feature or by associating the consonant to two timing units. On the other hand, more recent work on IGs has suggested that the boundary between IGs and fortis stops is tenuous. To further support this claim, we present converging evidence from 3 understudied languages, Dunan (Japonic), Pattani Malay (PM, Austronesian), and Salentino (Indo-European), suggesting that IGs may also be reliably cued by intensity, possibly as a byproduct of longer closure duration, and f0 throughout the following vowel. Reliance on these acoustic cues is strongly reminiscent of fortis stops in, e.g., Korean. Accordingly, we propose that languages prototypically described as having IG contrasts should be phonologically represented with a distinct laryngeal specification that takes into account the constellation of acoustic cues at play.