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Acoustic analysis of high vowels in the Louisiana French of Terrebonne Parish

  • This study investigates high vowel laxing in the Louisiana French of the Lafourche Basin. Unlike Canadian French, in which the high vowels /i, y, u/ are traditionally described as undergoing laxing (to [I, Y, U]) in word-final syllables closed by any consonant other than a voiced fricative (see Poliquin 2006), Oukada (1977) states that in the Louisiana French of Lafourche Parish, any coda consonant will trigger high vowel laxing of /i/; he excludes both /y/ and /u/ from his discussion of high vowel laxing. The current study analyzes tokens of /i, y, u/ from pre-recorded interviews with three older male speakers from Terrebonne Parish. We measured the first and second formants and duration for high vowel tokens produced in four phonetic environments, crossing syllable type (open vs. closed) by consonant type (voiced fricative vs. any consonant other than a voiced fricative). Results of the acoustic analysis show optional laxing for /i/ and /y/ and corroborate the finding that high vowels undergo laxing in word-final closed syllables, regardless of consonant type. Data for /u/ show that the results vary widely by speaker, with the dominant pattern (shown by two out of three speakers) that of lowering and backing in the vowel space of closed syllable tokens. Duration data prove inconclusive, likely due to the effects of stress. The formant data published here constitute the first acoustic description of high vowels for any variety of Louisiana French and lay the groundwork for future study on these endangered varieties.

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Author:Kelly Kasper-Cushmann, Daniel Dakota
Parent Title (English):IULC Working Papers
Publisher:Indiana University Bloomington
Place of publication:Bloomington
Document Type:Article
Year of first Publication:2016
Date of Publication (online):2017/05/23
Tag:acoustic analysis
Lafourche Basin; Lafourche Parish; Louisiana French; Terrebonne Parish; high-vowel laxing
GND Keyword:Akustische Analyse; Französisch
Dewey Decimal Classification:400 Sprache / 440 Französisch, romanische Sprachen allgemein
Linguistics-Classification:Phonetik / Phonologie
Open Access?:Ja
Licence (German):Es gilt das UrhG