CURRENT PROJECTS

Unstressed Vowel Reduction in Brazilian Portuguese

The current study explores the phonetic and phonological status of vowel reduction in Brazilian Portuguese. Specifically, I test the influence of duration (manipulated via speech rate) on the realization of vowels in five prosodic positions. The analysis investigated the following variables: (a) the durations of vowels in each position, (b) the frequency of the first formant in each position and (c) the correlation between these two parameters. The results showed that duration was sensitive to the change of speech rate in all prosodic positions, while the F1 was more sensitive to the change of speech rate in the word-initial and final positions than in the word medial positions. However, the modulated duration did not inhibit the reduction process. This observation supports an analysis of vowel reduction in Brazilian Portuguese as phonological rather than strictly phonetic in nature. In addition, the results from LDA analysis suggests that the vowel reduction in in Brazilian Portuguese targets only posttonic syllables. The results of this study are important both for the analysis of Brazilian Portuguese, and for theories of vowel reduction more generally.

Collaborators:
Jason Bishop(CUNY Graduate Center)

 

Vowel Reduction in Two Varieties of Bulgarian

The present study examines the realization of unstressed vowel reduction in contemporary Bulgarian, part of a larger phonetic investigation of (incomplete) phonological neutralization in monolingual and bilingual speakers of the language. Unstressed vowel reduction in Bulgarian targets non-high vowels, such that the six vowel inventory /e,a,o,i,ǝ,u,/ observable in stressed syllables is said to reduce via raising to a three-vowel /i,ǝ,u/ sub-inventory in unstressed syllables. The goals for this talk are primarily descriptive, and involve answering the following questions about vowel reduction by twelve monolingual Bulgarian male speakers. First, to what extent, overall, is this putative phonological process phonetically complete? Second, how uniform is the degree of reduction across the vowel space (testing front versus back vowels)? Third, how uniform is the degree of reduction across two major varieties of the language (comparing Western/Sofia speakers with Eastern/Balkan speakers)? We discuss preliminary answers to these questions and relate them to (a) previous empirical claims and (b) theoretical models of vowel reduction. 

Collaborators:
Jason Bishop(CUNY Graduate Center)