3aSC24. Articulatory characteristics of French consonants are maintained after the loss of schwa.

Session: Wednesday Morning, December 4


Author: Donca Steriade
Location: Dept. of Linguist., UCLA, 405 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90095
Author: Cecile Fougeron
Location: Dept. of Linguist., UCLA, 405 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90095


The optional loss of schwa in French generates consonant clusters. Thus de role [d(schwa)rol] can be produced as d'role [drol] and is thought to become homophonous with drole [drol]. This study compared articulatory and acoustic properties of [d] in these sequences in order to determine whether [d] maintains, after the loss of schwa, certain characteristics of the isolation form de. The sequences were inserted in a carrier sentence and repeated 20 times by three French speakers. Consonants were compared in terms of amount and location of linguopalatal contact (measured with EPG), their acoustic duration, and frequency of lenition (absence of closure). Preliminary results for one subject show that despite the complete disappearance of schwa, the [d] in d'role has some of the same characteristics as the one in de role as opposed to drole: longer duration, greater and more anterior linguopalatal contact, less lenition. These results suggest that the loss of schwa does not lead to resyllabification of [d] with either the preceding or following syllable, but rather that the consonant maintains the characteristic properties of the citation form. The significance of this result is that lexical distinctions are maintained in production, despite the apparent phonological neutralization induced by schwa loss.

ASA 132nd meeting - Hawaii, December 1996