A surface-level account of Word-initial [w] in sandhi and non-sandhi contextsrench w

Melissa Lynn Troyer, Francisco Antonio Montaño


This study aims to determine whether French word-initial [w] exhibits different phonetic properties depending on whether or not sandhi phenomena are permitted. We also explore the question of whether or not these properties are lexically determined and therefore consistent across contexts. Minimum F2 value for [w] as well as the duration until 80% of the F2 transition from [w] to the following vowel are analyzed. The study involves a preliminary elicitation of experimental items from four native subjects both in sentences and in isolation. The results suggest that recent phonological analyses are not wholly correct in positing underlyingly onset or underlyingly nuclear word-initial glides, since the surface-level post-lexical syllabification seems to determine whether word-initial [w] will be more consonant-like (onset) or vowel-like (nuclear). We propose a revision to these phonological analyses in light of the new phonetic data. This study serves as a contribution to the growing literature on the phonetic properties of segments involved in sandhi phenomena in French.


French; sandhi; word-initial [w]; phonetics

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