Volume 16, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1568-1491
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9749
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Researchers in the field of the teaching and learning of phonetics agree that learners of a foreign/second language (L2) acquire identical vowels by positive transfer from their first language (L1). This statement prompted us to examine whether the French and Czech languages, differing in the size of their vowel inventories, possess any identical vowels that could thus be omitted from French as a Foreign Language (FFL) phonetic curricula intended for Czech learners. The quantification of the vowels’ phonetic similarity is based on the comparison of their (1) phonetic symbols, (2) formant values (F-patterns), and (3) perceptual characteristics. The combined results show that strictly identical vowels between the two languages do not exist, but some French vowels can be defined as highly similar to some Czech vowels. Different coarticulatory effects of vowels produced in isolation and in labial, dental and palato-velar symmetrical environments point to a very strong influence of phonetic contexts on vowel similarity. Indeed, no French vowel is highly similar to any Czech vowel in all of the contexts studied. The findings suggest that phonetic exercises designed for Czech learners should focus on allophonic variations of all French vowels.


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