A structural magnetic resonance imaging study has revealed that pharyngeal articulation varies considerably with voicing during the production of English fricatives. In a study of four speakers of American English, pharyngeal volume was generally found to be greater during the production of sustained voiced fricatives, compared to voiceless equivalents. Though pharyngeal expansion is expected for voiced stops, it is more surprising for voiced fricatives. For three speakers, all four voiced oral fricatives were produced with a larger pharynx than that used during the production of the voiceless fricative at the same place of articulation. For one speaker, pharyngeal volume during the production of voiceless labial fricatives was found to be greater, and sibilant pharyngeal volume varied with vocalic context as well as voicing. Pharyngeal expansion was primarily achieved through forward displacement of the anterior and lateral walls of the upper pharynx, but some displacement of the rear pharyngeal wall was also observed. These results suggest that the production of voiced fricatives involves the complex interaction of articulatory constraints from three separate goals: the formation of the appropriate oral constriction, the control of airflow through the constriction so as to achieve frication, and the maintenance of glottal oscillation by attending to transglottal pressure.

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