V-to-V assimilation in trisyllabic words in French

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We investigate the extent of regressive vowel-to-vowel assimilation in trisyllabic words in French. Sixty existing words were inserted in a carrier sentence, each containing /a/ in word-initial unstressed position, and /a/ or /i/ in word-medial unstressed and word-final stressed positions. Acoustic measurements taken at the midpoint of vowels showed that /a/ in word-initial position was less fronted and more open than /a/ in word-medial position when the vowels were followed by a final front vowel. The degree of fronting of /a/ word-initially was greater when the vowel was followed by a front vowel in both medial and final positions. These results suggest that vowel-to-vowel assimilation in trisyllabic words in French is a gradient and local effect of the final front stressed vowel on the vowel immediately adjacent to it. Key words: anticipatory assimilation; Vowel Harmony; gradience; phonetics; phonology


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