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[Part I. Between phonetics and phonology, Schwa in American English V+/r/ sequences]

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Abstract

This paper presents an acoustic study of word-final V+/<b>r</b>/ sequences in AmericanEnglish. The objectives were (i) to identify the presence of a schwa-like element inthe VC transitions, (ii) to investigate how this presence is related to the phonetic/phonological nature of V, and (iii) to determine whether the spectral anddurational characteristics of this element vary as a function of speaking rate. Twospeakers participated in the experiment. Formant and duration measurementsaccounted for (i) differences between the schwa-like element and canonicalschwa and (ii) variability in the schwa-like element and V. One-way ANOVAstested for formant and duration differences, while two-way ANOVAs tested forthe relationship between formant variability in the schwa-like element and V.The results suggest that the presence of a highly variable schwa-like element inthe V+/<b>r</b>/ sequences is (i) a generalized process affecting all contexts and (ii) theresult of coarticulation rather than epenthesis/insertion.

References

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