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

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

A Voice for the Voiceless: Voice Assimilation in French

Natalie D. Snoeren, Juan Segui

LPE/CNRS-Paris V, France

Past research has shown that the speech processing system is, under certain circumstances, relatively tolerant to surface variations in connected speech. The goal of this study is to explore regressive voice assimilation in French, a surface variation in which the voicing of a consonant is modified by the voicing of the following consonant.
   French subjects pronounced sentences containing words with plosive codas inserted in either assimilatory or non-assimilatory contexts. We carried out acoustic analyses and defined an index for voice assimilation. We observed that regressive voice assimilation in French is a graded rather than an all-or-none phonological phenomenon. The strength of assimilation did not depend on the following context (stops or fricatives). There was a significant effect of the underlying voicing: voiceless stops assimilated more strongly than voiced stops. Such acoustic trends should be taken into account when studying the perceptual consequences of voice assimilation.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Snoeren, Natalie D. / Segui, Juan (2003): "A voice for the voiceless: voice assimilation in French", In ICPhS-15, 2325-2328.