Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Rebecca A. Scarborough

Second Advisor

Mans Hulden

Third Advisor

Kevin B. Cohen


This study investigated the articulatory and acoustic interactions between vowel nasality and non-modal phonation, specifically creaky voice in Mandarin. The relation between the glottis and vowel nasality, known as “Rhinoglottophila” (Matisoff, 1975), has been observed in phonological alternations (Blevins & Garret, 1992; Silverman et al, 1995) and historical sound change (Chen 1972, Chen & Wang 1975; Zee, 1985). Recent acoustic (Simpson, 2012) and perception (Arai, 2006) studies have demonstrated that breathy voice and vowel nasality have overlapping spectral expression, leading to confounds in acoustic measurements, and are confusable perceptually.

Two experiments were conducted. The aerodynamic experiment looked at the articulatory interaction through examining the nasal and oral airflow patterns during coarticulatorily nasalized vowels in modal and creaky voices associated with tones. The acoustic experiment tested the interaction between acoustically measured vowel nasality and creaky voice with a collection of acoustic parameters known to be useful in doing acoustic measurements. The results from the two experiments were also compared.

The aerodynamic experiment suggested that vowel nasality interacts with the production of creaky voice. Results from the acoustic experiment further indicated that the acoustic interaction was only present in certain, but not all, of the tested parameters. The acoustic interaction between vowel nasality and creaky voice is likely to be the result of changed glottal gestures which alter the resonances in the vocal tract. A nonlinear model for speech production may be applied to explain this interaction.