Acoustic characteristics of fricatives in Francoprovençal (Nendaz)

Chong, A. and Kasstan, J. 2023. Acoustic characteristics of fricatives in Francoprovençal (Nendaz). Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 53 (3), pp. 888-921. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0025100322000147

TitleAcoustic characteristics of fricatives in Francoprovençal (Nendaz)
TypeJournal article
AuthorsChong, A. and Kasstan, J.
Abstract

Francoprovençal (FP) is a highly fragmented, severely endangered, and under-documented language spoken in parts of France, Italy and Switzerland. FP spoken in the Swiss Canton of Valais has a relatively rich voiceless fricative inventory, which for some varieties includes /ɬ/. FP is therefore unusual amongst Romance languages given the presence of a phonemic lateral fricative, which is also typologically rare in the world’s languages. Moreover, voiceless lateral fricatives have been reported to display a wide range of variation in acoustic properties cross-linguistically. To date, there is very little synchronic work examining the details of both the phonology and phonetics of FP, and no published acoustic work at all on any aspect of FP’s sound system. This study provides the first acoustic investigation of one variety of FP spoken in the Valaisan commune of Nendaz, concentrating on a preliminary examination of the fricative system. We examine productions from four speakers whose data is part of a larger study into language variation and change in the region. We show that voiceless fricative categories are distinguished primarily through spectral centre-of-gravity and variance measures. Further evidence from a series of acoustic measures, including proportion of pre-voicing, relative intensity and zero-crossing ratios, suggest that /ɬ/ in FP sits between two poles: a prototypical lateral fricative and a prototypical lateral approximant. In this respect, the study’s findings corroborate observations made elsewhere, and not only contributes to the documentation and description of a lesser-studied language, but also our understanding of voiceless lateral fricative typology.

Keywordsfricatives
voiceless lateral fricative
Francoprovençal
typology
acoustic phonetics
JournalJournal of the International Phonetic Association
Journal citation53 (3), pp. 888-921
ISSN0025-1003
1475-3502
Year2023
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publisher's version
License
CC BY 4.0
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1017/S0025100322000147
Publication dates
Published online17 Nov 2022
Published in printDec 2023
ProjectUniversals of Grammatical Change in Language Obsolescence
FunderLeverhulme Trust

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