A corpus-based study of the distribution of word-final schwa in Standard French and what it teaches us about its phonological status - Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire des Sciences du Numérique Access content directly
Journal Articles Isogloss. Open Journal of Romance Linguistics Year : 2021

A corpus-based study of the distribution of word-final schwa in Standard French and what it teaches us about its phonological status

Abstract

What is commonly considered as an epenthetic vowel can actually refer to at least two different realities: phonological epenthesis or phonetic excrescence. French schwa, noted [ә], is a vowel alternating with zero and limited to unstressed syllables that can appear word-internally or word-finally. This paper presents an extensive description of the distribution of word-final schwa in Standard French in order to shed light on its nature: is it an intrusive vowel or a full epenthetic vowel? To that extent, three large corpora of French containing more than 110 hours of speech were used to establish the presence of word-final schwa as a function of sociolinguistics, orthography, phonotactics and phonetics. Our conclusions are that word-final schwa is impacted by speech style, gender, orthography, phonotactics (i.e., the number of adjacent consonants and their sonority profile), and the phonological properties of the codas. However, speech rate does not impact word-final schwa realization. The specific results lead us to suggest that word-final schwa in Standard French shares similarities with intrusive vowels but ultimately behaves like a legit epenthetic vowel.
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hal-04039142 , version 1 (21-03-2023)

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Mathilde Hutin, Adèle Jatteau, Yaru Wu, Ioana Vasilescu, Lori Lamel, et al.. A corpus-based study of the distribution of word-final schwa in Standard French and what it teaches us about its phonological status. Isogloss. Open Journal of Romance Linguistics, 2021, 7, pp.1-27. ⟨10.5565/rev/isogloss.152⟩. ⟨hal-04039142⟩
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