On the Reduction of /ʒ/ in a Minority North American Variety of French

  • Randall GessEmail author
Part of the Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory book series (SNLT, volume 95)


This paper provides a detailed examination of the acoustic properties of full and reduced forms of /ʒ/ produced by a francophone Canadian from British Columbia, including the phonological contexts in which these forms occur. Full and reduced variants form a continuum of realizations defined by aperture, ranging from full constriction (and a specified degree of voicelessness) to complete absence of constriction in the oral cavity, including also a null realization. The presence of [ɦ] and [h] on the continuum motivates our view of the process as one of gradient debuccalization—the progressive reduction of oral articulatory gestures, with realizations defined by the articulatory residue remaining after reduction (some of which may show degrees of place assimilation). Our data are considered in light of Kingston’s (2008) proposal that lenited articulations serve to mark continuity within prosodic domains, with special attention to the forms that challenge this claim. We also explore the possible factors that make /ʒ/ a target for reduction.


Debuccalization /ezh/ (voiced postalveolar fricative) French Acoustic properties Articulatory gestures 



I would like to thank for feedback on various earlier versions, audiences at Français Langue Orale et Linguistique – Phonologie du français contemporain: schwa, phonologie de corpus, Paris, November 17–19, 2016; Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto Phonology Workshop, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, March 24–26, 2017; and the 47th Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages, University of Delaware, April 20–23, 2017.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of FrenchCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada

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