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

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003


Speech Shadowing as an Elicitation Technique in Variation Research: The Case of the Italian Mobile Diphthongs

Bart van der Veer, Vincent J. van Heuven

Universiteit Leiden Centre for Linguistics, The Netherlands

Italian features a stressed diphthong/unstressed monophthong alternation, which traditional grammars capture as the 'mobile diphthong rule': the rising diphthongs [jɛ] and [wɔ], historically related to Late-Latin mid-low stressed vowels, alternate with corresponding monophthongs due to some stress-shifting morphological operation. However, the written language features a growing generalization of these diphthongs in unstressed position. We aim to investigate to what extent this alternation (still) occurs in spoken Italian with use of the speech shadowing technique in combination with a phoneme restoration task. The experimental results show substantial variation, not only between and within speakers in the elicited production experiment but also between listeners in a perception task. We claim that variation in perception may account for the variation in speech production. From a methodological point of view, we conclude that speech shadowing eliciting spontaneous phoneme restoration is a reliable and useful technique in language variation research.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Veer, Bart van der / Heuven, Vincent J. van (2003): "Speech shadowing as an elicitation technique in variation research: the case of the Italian mobile diphthongs", In ICPhS-15, 2805-2808.