The law of position revisited

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One of the differences between northern and southern French is the distribution of mid-vowels: they are largely phonemic in northern French but allophonic in southern French, following the distributional law of position. This study explores the extent of deviations from the law of position in a town in the southeast of France and the leveling influence of Reference French. The analysis shows that there are fewer deviations from the law of position for /E/ than for /Œ/ and /O/, probably due to the instability of /E/ in northern French compared to the other two vowels, and to the negative attitudes associated with deviations for /Œ/ and /O/. Additionally, results according to age show that younger speakers deviate more than older ones.


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