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Vowel elision in casual French: The case of vowel /e/ in the word c’était

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Torreira,  Francisco
Radboud University Nijmegen, NL;
Center for Language Studies, External organization;
Mechanisms and Representations in Comprehending Speech, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Ernestus,  Mirjam
Radboud University Nijmegen, NL;
Language Comprehension Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Center for Language Studies, External organization;
Mechanisms and Representations in Comprehending Speech, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Torreira, F., & Ernestus, M. (2011). Vowel elision in casual French: The case of vowel /e/ in the word c’était. Journal of Phonetics, 39(1), 50 -58. doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2010.11.003.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-948F-1
Abstract
This study investigates the reduction of vowel /e/ in the French word c’était /setε/ ‘it was’. This reduction phenomenon appeared to be highly frequent, as more than half of the occurrences of this word in a corpus of casual French contained few or no acoustic traces of a vowel between [s] and [t]. All our durational analyses clearly supported a categorical absence of vowel /e/ in a subset of c’était tokens. This interpretation was also supported by our finding that the occurrence of complete elision and [e] duration in non-elision tokens were conditioned by different factors. However, spectral measures were consistent with the possibility that a highly reduced /e/ vowel is still present in elision tokens in spite of the durational evidence for categorical elision. We discuss how these findings can be reconciled, and conclude that acoustic analysis of uncontrolled materials can provide valuable information about the mechanisms underlying reduction phenomena in casual speech.