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Reduction of obstruent-liquid-schwa clusters in casual French

Brand, S., & Ernestus, M. (2015). Reduction of obstruent-liquid-schwa clusters in casual French. In Scottish consortium for ICPhS 2015, M. Wolters, J. Livingstone, B. Beattie, R. Smith, M. MacMahon, J. Stuart-Smith, & J. Scobbie (Eds.), Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 2015). Glasgow: University of Glasgow.
This study investigated pronunciation variants of word-final obstruent-liquid-schwa (OLS) clusters in casual French and the variables predicting the absence of the phonemes in these clusters. In a dataset of 291 noun tokens extracted from a corpus of casual conversations, we observed that in 80.7% of the tokens, at least one phoneme was absent and that in no less than 15.5% the whole cluster was absent (e.g., /mis/ for ministre). Importantly, the probability of a phoneme being absent was higher if the following phoneme was absent as well. These data show that reduction can affect several phonemes at once and is not restricted to just a handful of (function) words. Moreover, our results demonstrate that the absence of each single phoneme is affected by the speaker's tendency to increase ease of articulation and to adapt a word's pronunciation variant to the time available.
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