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A study of upper lip protrusion in French Cowan, Helen A.

Abstract

This study investigates upper lip protrusion during selected French utterances as produced by six native French speakers. A photocell, incorporated into a headpiece, was used to transduce upper lip movement into an electrical signal which was then amplified and displayed on a graphic recorder. Utterances included a) VCV utterances; b) utterances containing the consonant clusters /rstr/, /rskr/, /kstr/ and /strstr/; c) utterances containing the segments /i/ and /u/ in sequence or separated, in various combinations, by a consonant and/or word boundary; d) utterances produced with an increasing degree of emphatic stress; and e) utterances produced at an increasing rate. Three aspects of the protrusion gesture are examined: extent of protrusion, velocity, transition time, and the relations between them. Results indicate differences between these three measures for the production of /u/ as compared to /y/, as well as differences when upper lip movement is directed away from target protrusion position as compared to when it is directed toward target protrusion position. Results also indicate how the three measures are affected by the following: insertion of a consonant and/or word boundary between /i/ and /u/ in the /i/-/u/ utterances; increase in level of stress on the syllable containing the rounded vowel /u/; and increase in rate of speaking. This study also includes an attempt to determine onset of protrusion in a consonant cluster followed by a rounded vowel. It is hypothesized that the extent of coarticulation of upper lip protrusion might provide some useful information concerning a discrete unit in terms of which speech may be produced at the articulatory level. Results show that such a unit may be composed of either a VCC...V or CC...V group. The possibility of coarticulation of upper lip protrusion being language-dependent as well as the possibility of coarticulation patterns differing for the upper and lower lip is discussed. Results are also related to various models of speech production although they do not appear to strongly support any one model.

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