The phonological category “retroflex” is found in many Indo-Aryan languages; however, it has not been clearly established which acoustic characteristics reliably differentiate retroflexes from other coronals. This study investigates the acoustic phonetic properties of Punjabi retroflex /ʈ/ and dental /ʈ̪/ in word-medial and word-initial contexts across /i e a o u/, and in word-final context across /i a u/. Formant transitions, closure and release durations, and spectral moments of release bursts are compared in 2280 stop tokens produced by 30 speakers. Although burst spectral measures and formant transitions do not consistently differentiate retroflexes from dentals in some vowel contexts, stop release duration, and total stop duration reliably differentiate Punjabi retroflex and dental stops across all word contexts and vocalic environments. These results suggest that Punjabi coronal place contrasts are signaled by the complex interaction of temporal and spectral cues.

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