15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003


The Matter with the Penultimate: Prosodic Change in the Vernacular of Lower-Class Immigrant Youth in Paris

Zsuzsanna Fagyal

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

This study investigates a prosodic pattern in the vernacular of the working-class Parisian French youth known as 'lengthening of the penultimate syllable'. Eighty-five middle-school students from a predominantly immigrant suburb near Paris were recorded in a picture-naming task during breaks and after school. Results for five words uttered by twelve boys of North-African, and of white Caucasian, origins show greater than average durations in most words, but significant difference between the two groups was only observed in one word. A high tonal target appears on IP-penultimate syllables perceived as unusually long. This pattern is atypical in non-emphatic uses of Parisian French, but its presence in both ethnic groups' speech points to its possible vernacular status in working-class adolescent male peer groups.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Fagyal, Zsuzsanna (2003): "The matter with the penultimate: prosodic change in the vernacular of lower-class immigrant youth in Paris", In ICPhS-15, 671-674.