Initial Voiceless Plosives

In initial position, /p, t, k/ are generally unaspirated, though sometimes /k/ can have some aspiration. In the wordlist in Table 2, the /k/ in kadat (‘forehead’) has Voice Onset Time (VOT) of 32 msec, but there is minimal aspiration on the initial consonant of palad (‘palm’) and tulang (‘bone’). In the North Wind and the Sun passage, the average VOT for initial /p/ is 8 msec, for /t/ it is 17 msec, and for /k/ it is 20 msec, confirming the /p/ < /t/ < /k/ ranking for VOT found in English (Docherty, 1992), Chinese (Deterding & Nolan, 2007) and Brunei Malay (Deterding & Ishamina, 2017). However, in Dusun the VOT for /k/ is quite variable, ranging from 6 msec to 49 msec for the /k/ in the eight tokens of kuat (‘strong’) in the passage.

The boxplot in Figure 1 shows the range of VOT for initial /p, t, k/, with the median for each consonant shown as a thick line. It can be seen that the median for /k/ (14 msec) is actually lower than that for /t/ (18 msec), but the range for /k/ is substantially greater than for the other two voiceless plosives. The standard deviation of the VOT for these three consonants is 3 msec for /p/, 3 msec for /t/, and 24 msec for /k/.

Figure 1. VOT for initial voiced plosives.