14thAnnual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Lyon, France
August 25-29, 2013

How Are Word-Final Schwas Different in the North and South of France?

Rena Nemoto (1), Martine Adda-Decker (2)

(1) Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia
(2) LPP (UMR 7018), France

The aim of this paper is twofold: (i) give a large-scale description in realized word-final schwas of French lexical words for different regions (North vs. South) and different speaking styles (read vs. spontaneous speech); (ii) highlight differences in prosodic features and test these differences via automatic classification techniques. The proposed study relies on a subset of 12.5 hours of the French PFC corpus. Manually transcribed speech was segmented and labeled using automatic speech alignment and a pronunciation dictionary including optional word-final schwas for all words ending in a consonant. F0 and intensity values were extracted and averaged over segments. Our study revealed that, for both speaking styles, word-final schwas of southern French tended to keep relatively high F0 values and longer durations in comparison with northern French where F0 tends to drop on a word-final schwa. On average, spontaneous speech featured smaller F0 drops between final full vowel and subsequent word-final schwa vowel as well as longer durations. The automatic North/South classification of word-final schwas achieved better results for spontaneous speech. As for distinguishing between speaking styles, southern French obtained slightly better scores than the northern varieties.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Nemoto, Rena / Adda-Decker, Martine (2013): "How are word-final schwas different in the north and south of france?", In INTERSPEECH-2013, 305-309.