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Articulatory settings of French and English monolingual and bilingual speakers Wilson, Ian Lewis

Abstract

This dissertation investigates articulatory setting (AS), a language’s underlying or default posture of the articulators (i.e., the tongue, jaw, and lips). Inter-speech posture (ISP) of the articulators (the position of the articulators when they are motionless during inter-utterance pauses) is used as a measure of AS in Canadian English and Québécois French. The dissertation reports two experiments using a combination of Optotrak and ultrasound imaging to test whether ISP is language specific in both monolingual and bilingual speakers, whether it is affected by phonetic context, and whether it is influenced by speech mode (monolingual or bilingual). Results of Experiment 1 show significant differences in ISP across the English and French monolingual groups, with English exhibiting a higher tongue tip, more protruded upper and lower lips, and narrower horizontal lip aperture. Results also show that for English speakers, the jaw ISP is somewhat influenced by phonetic context while the lip and tongue ISP are not. For French speakers, only certain lip components of ISP are influenced by phonetic context while the ISP of the tongue and jaw are not. Results of Experiment 2 show that upper and lower lip protrusion are greater for the English ISP than for the French ISP, in all bilinguals who were perceived as native speakers of both of their languages, but in none of the other bilinguals. Also, tongue tip height results mirrored those of the monolingual groups, for half of the bilinguals perceived as native speakers of both languages, but for no other bilinguals. Finally, results show that there is no unique bilingual-mode ISP, but instead one that is equivalent to the monolingual-mode ISP of a speaker’s currently most-used language. This research empirically confirms centuries of non-instrumental evidence for the existence of AS, and thus supports calls for the teaching of AS to L2 learners. Additionally, the lack of phonetic carry-over effect on ISP is encouraging for studies that have used ISP as a measurement baseline. Finally, the fact that there is no unique ISP for bilingual speech mode suggests that differences between monolingual and bilingual modes do not hold at the phonetic level.

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