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The combined influence of speech style and vowel quality on vowel reduction
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The reduction scales for vowel quality and speech style can be implemented into a combined hierarchy for vowel reduction. The scale is based on Kager (1989:315), adapted by Booij (1995), and implemented into Optimality Theory by Van Oostendorp (1995:118). The scale indicates the likelihood of vowel reduction for specific vowels in the different speech styles:


Table 1: Reducibility of A-class vowels in unstressed syllables
Segment After a stressed syllable After an unstressed syllable
/e/ Formal Formal
/a/ Semi-formal Semi-formal
/o/ Semi-formal Informal
/i/ Semi-formal Informal
/y, u/ Informal Excluded
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As Kager (1989) argues, this interaction implies that we may find cases where there is reduction in an unstressed syllable after another unstressed syllable but not in the first unstressed syllable (the general pattern is the other way round). It has indeed been argued that this can be the case if the vowel in the syllable directly following the stress is less reducible than that of the vowel in the second unstressed syllable. Consider the following examples from Booij (1995):

Example 1

logopedie [ˌlo.ɤo.pe.ˈdi] speech therapy
epidemie [ˌe.pi.de.ˈmi] epidemy


Table 2
Syllable PAPUˌσ APUσ PUσ Uˈσ
Unreduced form ˌlo

ˌe

ɤo

pi

pe

de

ˈdie

ˈmie

Partial reduction ˌlo

ˌe

ɤo

pi

ˈdie

ˈmie

Full reduction ˌlo

ˌe

ɤə

ˈdie

ˈmie

Impossible reduction ˌlo

ˌe

ɤə

pe

de

ˈdie

ˈmie

References:
  • Booij, Geert1995The phonology of DutchOxfordOxford University Press
  • Booij, Geert1995The phonology of DutchOxfordOxford University Press
  • Kager, René1989A Metrical Theory of Stress and Destressing in English and DutchDordrechtForis
  • Kager, René1989A Metrical Theory of Stress and Destressing in English and DutchDordrechtForis
  • Oostendorp, Marc van1995Vowel Quality and Phonological ProjectionTilburg UniversityThesis
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