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Weak Lips? A Possible Merger of /i:/ and /y:/ in Gothenburg
Division of Educational Science and Languages, University West, Trollhättan, Sweden.
Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Learning Practices inside and outside School (LPS), Communication, Culture & Diversity @ JU (CCD@JU).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0884-6110
2019 (English)In: Phonetica, ISSN 0031-8388, E-ISSN 1423-0321Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Background/Aims:

This study investigates a possible merger in the early stages between /i:/ and /y:/ among young speakers in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Methods:

(1) A large-scale online perception experiment testing listeners’ abilities to identify the two vowels and (2) acoustic analysis of 705 vowels from 19 speakers. 

Results:

The perception study shows that listeners classify the horizontally centralized /y:/ as /i:/, both in isolated vowel items and in items containing the full word. This indicates that /y:/ is moving into the perceptual space of /i:/. Listeners also classify the unmerged /y:/ as /i:/ when listening to [y:] in isolation, indicating that lip rounding is a perceptually weak feature, for this centralized vowel, in this variety. The acoustic analysis shows that /i:/ tends to be produced as [ɨ:], and that there is no acoustic difference between /i:/ and /y:/ in measurements correlated with the first two formants, i.e. lip rounding is the most important distinctive feature.

Conclusion:

Results point in the direction of an incipient vowel merger, following a merger-by-approximation model. These results indicate a lack of perceptual strength of an articulatory feature in the disappearing phoneme, namely lip rounding, and the consequent perceptual similarities between the horizontally centralized [ɨ:] and /y:/.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
S. Karger, 2019.
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-43642DOI: 10.1159/000499107Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85065608487OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-43642DiVA, id: diva2:1315040
Available from: 2019-05-10 Created: 2019-05-10 Last updated: 2019-06-12

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Forsberg, Julia

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