This paper presents an acoustic and physiological analysis of the Danish ‘stød’ with an introduction on its phonological role and distribution. The stød is a prosodic feature bound to definite syllables in certain word types and connected to the latter part of the syllable. Phonetically it is a phonation type related to creaky voice. The first part of the syllable is characterized acoustically by a higher pitch level and often a higher intensity level than syllables without stød, and by a relatively high subglottal pressure and airflow, thus generally by a relatively high expenditure of energy. In the second part, the stød phase proper, there is a considerable decrease in intensity, particularly in the lower part of the spectrum and, for the majority of the speakers, a noticeable decrease in fundamental frequency, and/or aperiodicity. Moreover the airflow is low, and inverse filtering shows a longer closure time in each vibration. There is also a slight decrease in subglottal pressure, and all speakers have a constriction of the vocal folds and often of the ventricular folds as well, but with large interindividual variation as to the degree of constriction. On the boundary between the first and the second phase most speakers have a strong contraction of the vocalis and lateralis muscles, obviously preparing for the glottal constriction of the second phase. The author cannot follow Svend Smith in concluding that a sudden contraction and relaxation of the respiratory muscles resulting in a quick rise and fall in subglottal pressure constitutes the primary factor. There is, rather, an independent contraction of a number of muscles, and neither the high pitch at the beginning nor the fall in pitch and intensity in the second phase can be explained by the subglottal pressure contour. The high pitch level at the beginning may be explained by activity in the cricothyroid, and the decrease in pitch and the low intensity in the second phase is probably due to constriction of the glottis, although the fact that the decrease in intensity starts rather early raises some problems. Finally the question of the origin of the stød is discussed briefly. It is suggested that the stød in Danish perhaps originated from a reinforcement of the first syllable in combination with reduction and loss of a following syllable in Common Scandinavian. The reinforcement may have been accompanied by a rise in pitch, so that developments in different directions (involving stød or tonal accents) were possible.

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