LINGUIST List 10.1767

Sun Nov 21 1999

Qs: Phonetics & Internet,IPA Handbook on French

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  1. WEN-CHAO LI, Phonetic transparency and CMC
  2. Neil Coffey, French section of the Handbook of the IPA

Message 1: Phonetic transparency and CMC

Date: 21 Nov 99 02:39:53 CST
From: WEN-CHAO LI <>
Subject: Phonetic transparency and CMC

I am examining the hypothesis that computer-mediated communication
favors phonetically-transparent forms of spelling/writing over
standard conventions. This seems to be common in English, where
emails and discussion list posting are routinely peppered with
phonetically-transparent non-standard spellings of colloquial forms --
more so than in other forms of writing, but what is more interesting
is that in a non-alphabetic script such as Chinese, users also go out
of their way to rearrange pictograms so as to achieve an approximation
of new pronunciations and non-standard accents -- and this type of
Chinese, as far as I know, occurs only on the internet. I would
appreciate any pointers to work done on similar phenomena in other
languages, or on the relationship between phonetic transparency and
computer-mediated discourse.


- ----

Wen-Chao Li
Assistant Professor of Linguistics
National Taiwan Normal University

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Message 2: French section of the Handbook of the IPA

Date: Sun, 21 Nov 1999 13:33:49 +0000
From: Neil Coffey <>
Subject: French section of the Handbook of the IPA

Dear Linguists,

I'd be interested to have people's opinions on the section
on French (pp. 78-81) in the Handbook of the IPA published
earlier this year. Specifically on the following points:

(1) The authors say that [E~] (the nasalised vowel in e.g.
 'matin') is "produced with a tongue and lip position
 very similar to its oral counterpart [E]". Assuming
 for the sake of argument that this is true of the
 'young Parisian female' whose speech they're describing,
 how common is this among (say) young Parisian speakers
 as a whole? My observation is that pairs such as
 'attention' ~ 'intention' are perceptually very similar
 for native speakers, and I'd be interested to know
 what, if any, studies have been done on the articulatory
 position of, and perception of, this vowel, and whether
 in 1999 we can really regard [E] as its oral counterpart
 for most young Parisian speakers.

(2) On p. 80, the authors state that "Contrasts between [j]
 and [i] occur chiefly in final position, as in [abej]
 'abeille' vs. [abei] 'abbaye'.". To what extent is
 'contrast between [j] and [i]' an appropriate way to
 characterise this difference? It seems to me that what
 they speak of as "final position" is actually two
 different environments from the point of view of
 syllabification, and that what they transcribe as [e]
 could be analysed as a different vowel underlyingly
 in the two cases, and that this difference provides
 probably a motivating constraint for the [j]/[i]
 difference. Viz. adopting a segmental notation, we
 can say that these words are something like /abEi/
 and /abei/ underlyingly, and that /E/, but not /e/,
 can occur in a closed syllable. I'd appreciate
 others' opinions on this matter.

(3) In the transcription, 'serait regard�' is transcribed
 as [sR R-], i.e. with a schwa for the second vowel.
 How common is this assimilation? I'm surprised that
 the verb ending is completely reduced to a schwa
 as suggested here. Is it just me not being very

(4) In the word 'renon�a', [o~] is transcribed differently
 from elsewhere. Is there any motivation for this?

(5) I'm surprised that [i] is marked as lengthened in
 'ils sont tomb�s', but e.g. [a] isn't in 'commen�a
 a briller' [kOmA~sa bRije]. What do others think?

All comments/feedback appreciated; I will of course
summarise to the List if requested.


Neil Coffey Fax: 0870 0553662 WWW:
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