Reduction of word-final obstruent-liquid-schwa clusters in Parisian French
Brand, S., & Ernestus, M.
Reduction of word-final obstruent-liquid-schwa clusters in Parisian French. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory. Advance online publication
This corpus study investigated pronunciation variants of word-final obstruent-liquid-schwa (OLS) clusters in nouns in casual Parisian French. Results showed that at least one phoneme was absent in 80.7% of the 291 noun tokens in the dataset, and that the whole cluster was absent (e.g., [mis] for ministre) in no less than 15.5% of the tokens. We demonstrate that phonemes are not always completely absent, but that they may leave traces on neighbouring phonemes. Further, the clusters display undocumented voice assimilation patterns. Statistical modelling showed that a phoneme is most likely to be absent if the following phoneme is also absent. The durations of the phonemes are conditioned particularly by the position of the word in the prosodic phrase. We argue, on the basis of three different types of evidence, that in French word-final OLS clusters, the absence of obstruents is mainly due to gradient reduction processes, whereas the absence of schwa and liquids may also be due to categorical deletion processes.