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  • Phonetics and phonology: Interactions and interrelations
  • Zahir Mumin
Marina Vigário, Sónia Frota, and Maria Jão Freitas, eds. 2009. Phonetics and phonology: Interactions and interrelations. In the series Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 306. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Pp. vi + 290. US $158.00 (hardcover).

This book consists of a collection of 13 papers presented at the Third Phonetics and Phonology in Iberia Conference in 2007 at the University of Minho in Portugal. The book is divided into three parts, which represent the overall major issues examined in the fields of phonetics and phonology: "Between phonetics and phonology" (Part I), "Segmental and prosodic interactions" (Part II), and "Interactions between segments and features" (Part III). The primary purpose of this book is to examine the speech of children and adults who speak different world languages, such as English, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Catalan, and Romanian, in order to determine the extent to which linguistic theories such as Articulatory Phonology, Optimality Theory, and the Parallel Structures Model are applicable to the results of the descriptive data analyzed in each study. The secondary purpose is to show that there is still an ongoing debate on the possibility of combining the fields of phonetics and phonology into one field because of their inevitable interrelatedness which often constitutes the examination of segments, prosody, features, and speech patterns.

The first paper, by Riera et al., examines the speech of two native US English speakers to determine if there is production of a schwa-like element in vowel V + /r/ sequences, and compare this element with the canonical schwa. This study uses a one-way and two-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) to examine the formant and duration differences between this schwa-like element and the canonical schwa. The results show that this schwa-like element is highly variable (unlike the canonical schwa) and is dynamically conditioned by the phonetic context and speaking rate. The study argues overall that epenthetic schwa and centering diphthongs are inaccurate terms used to describe this schwa-like element because this element constantly undergoes the process of coarticulation. The results of the study do not support Baker and Goldstein's (1990) argument that there is an epenthetic schwa (without a clear process of coarticulation) that is similar to a canonical schwa.1 The results of Riera et al.'s study also contradict Roach et al.'s (2006) argument in favour of centering diphthongs, which are formed according to the respective V + /r/ phonetic context.

The second paper, by Ortega-Llebaria and Prieto, analyses native Spanish-speakers' perception of stress contrast in unaccented contexts. The study uses duration, spectral tilt, and intensity as independent variables to determine the extent to which 20 research participants [End Page 133] perceive the aforementioned contrast in the Spanish vowels [a] and [i], using the paroxytone words mimi and mama, and oxytone words mimí and mamá. The results of Ortega-Llebaria and Prieto's study show that Spanish speakers rely on duration and intensity as cues to stress in unaccented contexts and that spectral tilt is not a significant factor. These results supplement the findings of Sluijter et al. (1997), which show that English speakers use vowel reduction patterns to perceive stress in unaccented contexts, whereas Dutch speakers employ duration, spectral tilt, and intensity.

The third paper, also by Prieto and Ortega-Llebaria, examines the complexity of the nuclear pitch accent in broad focus and narrow contrastive focus to find out if the durational properties of the penultimate stress syllables and word-final stress syllables in Catalan and Spanish show a lengthening effect on the target syllables. Although Grabe (1998) argues that, cross-linguistically, speakers (depending on their dialect) use truncation and compression of rising and falling accents to condition the durational properties of stress, Prieto and Ortega-Llebaria argue that this is not dialectal but a phonetic realisation strategy. The target word pairs used for their study were mama/mamá and mimi/mimí in sentence-final position and the results show that, in Catalan and Spanish, duration increases in narrow-focus words in penultimate-and final-syllable position and when there is a complex pitch gesture.

The fourth paper, by Manolescu et al...


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