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

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

Cross-Linguistic Study of the Effect of Suprasegmental Features Conditioning the Development of Nasal Vowels

Ian Watson (1), John Hajek (2)

(1) University of Oxford, UK
(2) University of Melbourne, Australia

Certain suprasegmental patterns have been shown to condition the perception of vowel nasality and hence to favour the historical development of nasalised vowels. However, experiments showing this have typically used only anglophone subjects. The present experiment examines whether these effects generalise to speakers of French, a language with significantly different suprasegmental properties from English. We repeated with 10 French subjects perceptual tests already used with English speakers and compared results for the two groups with respect to three parameters known to be potentially salient in conditioning nasal percepts on vowels.
   Results show that the responses of the French subjects differ significantly from those of the English subjects for all the parameters, and in ways related to the differences between French and English phonology. Nevertheless, both groups showed at least some minimal sensitivity to all the effects studied, so that we are unable to rule out the possibility of their having a universal basis.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Watson, Ian / Hajek, John (2003): "Cross-linguistic study of the effect of suprasegmental features conditioning the development of nasal vowels", In ICPhS-15, 2809-2812.