This study focuses on how French heterosyllabic sibilant clusters are produced by one French native speaker and by three Italian learners of French-L2. In French, these clusters are frequent and are reported to show place assimilation; in Italian, on the contrary, they are very rare and speakers are expected to repair the phonotactically marked sequences by epenthesizing a schwa. In the current study, acoustic and articulatory (AG500) data have been collected in order to observe the production of clusters in French L1 and L2, under the influence of two factors . that is speech rate and presence of prosodic boundaries . that may affect the realization of assimilation or repairs by acting on coarticulation. Results reveal that place assimilation occurs only at faster speech rate and it favors the realization of the postalveolar over the alveolar fricative; as expected, the presence of prosodic boundaries interferes with this process. Place assimilation is realized by the French speaker and one Italian speaker, although the latter produces it in fewer cases and using a different articulatory strategy.
Bibliographic reference. d'Apolito, Sonia / Fivela, Barbara Gili (2013): "Place assimilation and articulatory strategies: the case of sibilant sequences in French as L1 and L2", In INTERSPEECH-2013, 592-596.