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Acoustic aspects of vowel harmony in French

Abstract : This paper examines acoustic aspects of vowel harmony (VH), understood as regressive vowel-to-vowel assimilation, in two regional varieties of French in six speakers' productions of 107 disyllabic word pairs. In each word pair, the word-initial vowel (V1) was phonemically either /e/ or /o/, and the word-final stressed vowel (V2) alternated between /e-E/, /ø-oe/, /o-O/ or /i-a/. Results are consistent with the idea that VH in French entails variations in tongue height along with related displacements of the tongue position along the front-back axis. These effects were independent of both the number of morphemes and lexical frequency. They were more systematic in Northern than in Southern French speakers' speech. Linear mixed-effects models strongly suggest that VH is a gradient effect of the trigger on the harmonizing vowel. Results lend support to usage-based phonological approaches regarding gradient phonetic differences as part of the gestural scores that make up the lexicon and that can be variably grammaticalized in different varieties of the language.
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Submitted on : Friday, February 15, 2008 - 2:08:48 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, July 14, 2022 - 3:59:54 AM
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Noël Nguyen, Zsuzsanna Fagyal. Acoustic aspects of vowel harmony in French. Journal of Phonetics, 2008, 36 (1), pp.1-27. ⟨hal-00256384⟩

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