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

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

An Articulatory Investigation of Word Final /l/ and /l/-sandhi in Three Dialects of English

James M. Scobbie, Alan A. Wrench

Queen Margaret University College, UK

We use the MOCHA articulatory speech database to explore word-final /l/ in English. Eight speakers, drawn from three nations with distinct phonological systems (Scotland, England and USA) all display pervasive and systematic /l/ vocalisation (defined as lack of alveolar contact in EPG data). Vocalisation of word-final /l/ is radically context-dependent for seven subjects. These English speakers have a post-lexical external sandhi alternation of consonantal vs. vocalic /l/ which appears categorical. We describe the general tendencies and the systematic linguistic differences between speakers, which are orthogonal to national dialect. Coda (re)syllabification of /l/ is not subtle or flexible enough to condition the distribution of vocalisation. Prosodic, segmental and phrasal factors are all required. A preliminary EMA analysis of intracontextual variability reveals both gradient and categorical aspects.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Scobbie, James M. / Wrench, Alan A. (2003): "An articulatory investigation of word final /l/ and /l/-sandhi in three dialects of English", In ICPhS-15, 1871-1874.