8th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Antwerp, Belgium
August 27-31, 2007

Rhotic Variation and Schwa Epenthesis in Windsor French

Ivan Chow, François Poiré

University of Western Ontario, Canada

This study investigates two idiosyncratic phenomena found in the French dialect of the Windsor area in SW Ontario. (1) Rhotics in this dialect are pronounced in three phonetic varieties: the dorsal fricative, the alveolar approximant, and the alveolar tap. (2) An epenthetic schwa is also found in the phonetic realization in certain phonemic contexts. Through phonetic analysis of recorded speech and statistical data analyses, we explore whether the phonological context is a good predictor of the phonetic realization of rhotics and schwa epenthesis. Amongst the independent factors, the manner and place of articulation of the phonemes preceding and following the rhotics are best predictors for the type of rhotics, the presence/absence of schwa epenthesis, as well as for the duration of the epenthetic schwa. The type of rhotic realization is a pre-condition for schwa epenthesis. Finally, duration of phonological schwas is also significantly longer than that of epenthetic schwas in schwa-rhotic sequences.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Chow, Ivan / Poiré, François (2007): "Rhotic variation and schwa epenthesis in windsor French", In INTERSPEECH-2007, 1022-1025.