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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton June 16, 2023

Merger in Eivissan Catalan: an acoustic analysis of the vowel systems of young native speakers

  • Silke Hamann and Francesc Torres-Tamarit EMAIL logo
From the journal Phonetica

Abstract

The vowel system of Catalan has been the focus of many studies, though work on the varieties spoken on the island of Eivissa (Ibiza) are scarce, with a single mention of the possible merger of the mid back vowels /o, ɔ/ (Torres Torres, Marià. 1983. Aspectes del vocalisme tònic eivissenc. Eivissa 14. 22–23). The present article provides the first acoustic analysis of the vowel inventory of 25 young native speakers of Eivissan Catalan, with a focus on the realisations of stressed /ə, ɛ/, and the back mid vowels /o, ɔ/. We employed Pillai scores (Hay, Jennifer, Paul Warren & Katie Drager. 2006. Factors influencing speech perception in the context of a merger-in-progress. Journal of Phonetics 34. 458–484) to compare the possibly merged pairs /ə, ɛ/ and /o, ɔ/ to the fully-contrasting neighbouring pairs /e, ɛ/ and /o, u/. Our results show that all participants had considerable overlap of stressed /ə/ and /ɛ/, and all but one had considerable overlap of the back mid vowels, while the fully contrastive pairs (/e, ɛ/ and /o, u/) showed almost no overlap.


Corresponding author: Francesc Torres-Tamarit, Departament de Filologia catalana, Facultat de Lletres, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Edifici B, 08193 Bellaterra (Barcelona), Spain, E-mail:

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to express their gratitude to the editor-in-chief Catherine T. Best, associate editor Ghada Khattab, and the three reviewers for their valuable feedback and suggestions that have greatly improved the quality of this paper. Special thanks go to Miquel Simonet and Daniel Recasens for their insightful comments and constructive criticism. Thanks are also due to the audience at LabPhon16, 2018, especially Juli Cebrian and Tom Lentz. The authors also extend their appreciation to Paul Boersma and Rob Jelier for their help with statistical analyses. The authors would like to acknowledge the generous participation of the young informants from Eivissa and the assistance of teachers Felip Cirer Costa and Bernat Joan i Marí during recording sessions.

  1. Research funding: This publication is a result of the research project I+D+i PID2020-113971GB-C22 funded by MCIN/AEI/10.13039/501100011033. The corresponding author also acknowledges the support of a grant for a Ramón y Cajal contract (RYC2020-028904-I).

  2. Author contributions: Both authors contributed equally to this work.

  3. Conflict of interest statement: The authors declare none.

  4. Ethics statement: For this research we obtained written informed consent from the parents of the participants. Our study has been conducted following protocols and informed consent practices in compliance with the Helsinki Declaration.

Appendix A: Items

a1 ‘hand’ ə1 net ‘clean’
a2 muntanya ‘mountain’ ə2 tres ‘three’
a3 mapa ‘map’ ə3 antena ‘antenna’
a4 sal ‘salt’ ə4 pèl ‘hair’
a5 ram ‘bouquet’ ə5 esquena ‘back’
a6 fantasma ‘ghost’ ə6 ceba ‘onion’
a7 casa ‘house’ ə7 pera ‘pear’
a8 vaca ‘cow’ ə8 cella ‘eyebrow’
a9 gat ‘cat’ ə9 abella ‘bee’
a10 aranya ‘spider’ ə10 verd ‘green’
i1 llibre ‘book’ ɔ1 flor ‘flower’
i2 conill ‘rabbit’ ɔ2 porta ‘door’
i3 gris ‘grey’ ɔ3 coll ‘neck’
i4 formiga ‘ant’ ɔ4 ou ‘egg’
i5 síndria ‘watermelon’ ɔ5 foc ‘fire’
i6 figa ‘fig’ ɔ6 cova ‘cave’
i7 pi ‘pinetree’ ɔ7 roda ‘wheel’
i8 fil ‘thread’ ɔ8 groc ‘yellow’
i9 pinya ‘pineapple’ ɔ9 sol ‘sun’
i10 pingüí ‘penguin’ ɔ10 arròs ‘rice’
ɛ1 mel ‘honey’ o1 polp ‘octopus’
ɛ2 cel ‘sky’ o2 boca ‘mouth’
ɛ3 peu ‘foot’ o3 sopa ‘soup’
ɛ4 cendra ‘ash’ o4 món ‘world’
ɛ5 divendres ‘Friday’ o5 estómac ‘stomach’
ɛ6 hivern ‘winter’ o6 llop ‘wolf’
ɛ7 set ‘seven’ o7 poma ‘apple’
ɛ8 deu ‘ten’ o8 mosca ‘fly’
ɛ9 terra ‘earth/ground’ o9 jove ‘young’
ɛ10 guerra ‘war’ o10 meló ‘melon’
u1 pruna ‘plumb’ e1 cuiner ‘cook’
u2 nu ‘naked’ e2 cec ‘blind’
u3 juny ‘June’ e3 vella ‘old-fem’
u4 bruixa ‘witch’ e4 resa ‘he/she prays’
u5 ull ‘eye’ e5 estrella ‘star’
u6 tortuga ‘turtle’ e6 nét ‘grandson’
u7 lluna ‘moon’ e7 Déu ‘God’
u8 puça ‘flea’ e8 cresta ‘crest’
u9 cuc ‘worm’ e9 festa ‘party’
u10 puny ‘fist’ e10 finestra ‘window’
fə = final unstressed schwa pə = pretonic schwa
fə1 porta pə1 antena
fə2 formiga pə2 esquena
fə3 bruixa pə3 fantasma
fə4 ceba pə4 estrella
fə5 pera pə5 estómac
fə6 divendres pə6 aranya
fə7 casa pə7 arròs
fə8 poma pə8 meló
fə9 terra
fə10 finestra

Appendix B1: Vowel spaces for all speakers

Appendix B2: Vowel spaces for female and male speakers

Appendix C: Results of the statistical analyses

Table C1:

Pillai scores and p-values for the front mid vowel pairs per speaker.

Speaker ə_ɛ e_ɛ e_ə
Pillai score p-value Pillai score p-value Pillai score p-value
1 0.00960 0.93468 0.79110 0.00004 0.86588 <0.00001
2 0.20458 0.14291 0.89748 <0.00001 0.81445 <0.00001
3 0.07809 0.54344 0.74901 0.00002 0.76394 0.00001
4 0.11451 0.42685 0.93285 <0.00001 0.92310 <0.00001
5 0.09633 0.16989 0.83027 <0.00001 0.86196 <0.00001
6 0.00351 0.94200 0.93712 <0.00001 0.96750 <0.00001
7 0.02814 0.62444 0.78619 <0.00001 0.79677 <0.00001
8 0.21968 0.02422 0.93366 <0.00001 0.92510 <0.00001
9 0.03473 0.58851 0.94046 <0.00001 0.94776 <0.00001
10 0.02330 0.66983 0.88633 <0.00001 0.90737 <0.00001
11 0.11111 0.12003 0.83169 <0.00001 0.77958 <0.00001
12 0.04177 0.50523 0.94215 <0.00001 0.92121 <0.00001
13 0.01979 0.48688 0.86677 <0.00001 0.77617 <0.00001
14 0.07099 0.33137 0.88388 <0.00001 0.86592 <0.00001
15 0.05924 0.34346 0.96534 <0.00001 0.93097 <0.00001
16 0.01580 0.78127 0.65035 <0.00001 0.67447 <0.00001
17 0.28205 0.00303 0.87297 <0.00001 0.81100 <0.00001
18 0.10173 0.20004 0.79561 <0.00001 0.77768 <0.00001
19 0.04183 0.49405 0.75285 <0.00001 0.71296 <0.00001
20 0.27883 0.00535 0.97069 <0.00001 0.93519 <0.00001
21 0.00206 0.97257 0.73586 <0.00001 0.80308 <0.00001
22 0.07620 0.25992 0.90840 <0.00001 0.87660 <0.00001
23 0.05854 0.36962 0.92050 <0.00001 0.92478 <0.00001
24 0.11728 0.23821 0.87520 <0.00001 0.87009 <0.00001
25 0.00749 0.89342 0.67011 <0.00001 0.78003 <0.00001
Mean 0.08389 0.85307 0.84854
Table C2:

Pillai scores and p-values for the back mid vowel pairs per speaker. For the o_ɔ pair, the only p-value below 0.001 is in boldface italics. For the other two pairs, the two exceptions of p-values above 0.001 are in boldface italics.

Speaker o_ɔ u_o u_ɔ
Pillai score p-value Pillai score p-value Pillai score p-value
1 0.66623 0.00015 0.57696 0.00103 0.93415 <0.00001
2 0.05839 0.63686 0.80542 0.00001 0.89650 <0.00001
3 0.00419 0.96694 0.73633 0.00002 0.88046 <0.00001
4 0.11379 0.35815 0.56899 0.00078 0.52332 0.00184
5 0.03217 0.58304 0.89786 <0.00001 0.92379 <0.00001
6 0.01441 0.78702 0.77811 <0.00001 0.82265 <0.00001
7 0.20409 0.01841 0.67011 <0.00001 0.61225 <0.00001
8 0.01583 0.78090 0.87880 <0.00001 0.87331 <0.00001
9 0.11817 0.12557 0.57310 <0.00001 0.69490 <0.00001
10 0.12643 0.10749 0.62517 <0.00001 0.67322 <0.00001
11 0.00609 0.90413 0.84562 <0.00001 0.84967 <0.00001
12 0.03192 0.55773 0.73728 <0.00001 0.75313 <0.00001
13 0.01943 0.51821 0.62181 <0.00001 0.70350 <0.00001
14 0.08619 0.20651 0.86304 <0.00001 0.83127 <0.00001
15 0.06824 0.29030 0.77133 <0.00001 0.77824 <0.00001
16 0.01568 0.75833 0.88370 <0.00001 0.87685 <0.00001
17 0.04593 0.44965 0.76475 <0.00001 0.81514 <0.00001
18 0.03743 0.55358 0.87466 <0.00001 0.89427 <0.00001
19 0.18698 0.02672 0.60971 <0.00001 0.60193 <0.00001
20 0.10854 0.14182 0.68799 <0.00001 0.77045 <0.00001
21 0.10581 0.13357 0.64413 <0.00001 0.61411 <0.00001
22 0.01487 0.78687 0.76218 <0.00001 0.77040 <0.00001
23 0.03016 0.59419 0.67608 <0.00001 0.65164 <0.00001
24 0.27086 0.01928 0.59026 0.00003 0.81233 <0.00001
25 0.01713 0.75846 0.74489 <0.00001 0.71771 <0.00001
Mean 0.09596 0.72753 0.77101
Table C3:

Pillai scores and p-values for the vowel pairs involving unstressed schwa. Pairs with p-values below 0.001 are marked in boldface italics.

Speaker fə_pə ə_pə ə_fə
Pillai score p-value Pillai score p-value Pillai score p-value
1 0.62580 0.00275 0.58969 0.00477 0.81428 <0.00001
2 0.07867 0.54088 0.55887 0.00216 0.40888 0.01146
3 0.09880 0.45830 0.61446 0.00127 0.23468 0.11769
4 0.00134 0.99201 0.47474 0.01522 0.63776 0.00082
5 0.27156 0.01011 0.36766 0.00163 0.37808 0.00031
6 0.02205 0.72379 0.21490 0.02654 0.55797 <0.00001
7 0.37325 0.00291 0.25159 0.01730 0.06350 0.37376
8 0.50527 0.00005 0.30045 0.01642 0.70545 <0.00001
9 0.28741 0.00620 0.08762 0.26456 0.17562 0.04550
10 0.23768 0.01706 0.28679 0.00744 0.14308 0.07244
11 0.24027 0.01621 0.68359 <0.00001 0.64623 <0.00001
12 0.07694 0.31319 0.32989 0.00368 0.21997 0.01465
13 0.04560 0.36662 0.15765 0.01933 0.35242 <0.00001
14 0.11978 0.15725 0.20187 0.05333 0.15237 0.08377
15 0.13497 0.13135 0.50232 0.00003 0.26144 0.00497
16 0.01265 0.84749 0.21680 0.04714 0.37522 0.00138
17 0.34891 0.00305 0.35656 0.00167 0.46048 0.00004
18 0.00456 0.93807 0.03314 0.64528 0.05098 0.49343
19 0.06715 0.39127 0.22809 0.02058 0.25995 0.00809
20 0.23973 0.01246 0.26504 0.00986 0.20827 0.01679
21 0.07174 0.33977 0.05170 0.54312 0.04121 0.54321
22 0.20541 0.05034 0.48022 0.00005 0.60247 <0.00001
23 0.09836 0.23468 0.10902 0.18754 0.33430 0.00149
24 0.00574 0.94134 0.20601 0.07045 0.36148 0.02208
25 0.20828 0.06065 0.25540 0.02506 0.03740 0.58643
Mean 0.17528 0.31296 0.33934

Appendix D: Word-specific realisations averaged over speakers. Words for final unstressed schwas were not included, as they overlap too much with pretonic schwa and stressed schwa

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Received: 2022-10-18
Accepted: 2023-05-05
Published Online: 2023-06-16
Published in Print: 2023-02-23

© 2023 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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