Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

The Linguistic Review

Editor-in-Chief: van der Hulst, Harry

4 Issues per year

IMPACT FACTOR 2017: 0.558
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 0.813

CiteScore 2017: 0.56

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.403
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.876

See all formats and pricing
More options …
Volume 34, Issue 1


High vowel distribution and trochaic markedness in Québécois

Yulia Bosworth
Published Online: 2016-04-15 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/tlr-2016-0009


This paper argues for quantity-sensitive, trochaic foot structure in Québécois French, which allows for a unified prosodic account of the variable distribution of tenseness of high vowels in non-final syllables. Following Montreuil (Montreuil, Jean-Pierre. 2004a. Fragmenting weight in Scottish English. In Monica Pulki (ed.), La tribune internationale des langues vivantes, 36, 114–22. Paris. Montreuil, Jean-Pierre. 2004b. The Computation of weight in English and in Québec French. First PAC Workshop 23–24 April 2004, Université de Toulouse le Mirail.) a grammatical, sonority-based surface weight distinction is assumed for Québécois French vowels, with tense high vowels associated to a full mora µ, while lax high vowels are associated to a hypomora λ, a weight value less than µ. The weight is shown to be regulated at the level of the minimally monomoraic foot, which can be expanded to include an adjacent syllable in words consisting of more than two syllables, following the proposed Trochaic Markedness Hierarchy, based on the following three ranked principles: 1) quantitative minimum: light and heavy rimes are preferred to superlight (λ) rimes, 2) quantitative evenness: even trochees are preferred to uneven trochees, and 3) quantitative dominance: the left branch that is heavier than the right branch is preferred to the left branch that is lighter. Possible shapes of the trochee are shown to be aligned with alternating surface realizations of high vowels.

Keywords: Quebec French; high vowels; vowel reduction; foot; phonological weight; sonority


  • Abu-Abbas, Khaled H., Thaer T. Al-Kadi & Feda Y. Al-Tamimi. 2010. On three -rb- language games in Arabic. Argumentum 6. 76–90.Google Scholar

  • Anttila, Arto & Young-mee Cho. 1998. Variation and change in Optimality Theory. Lingua 104. 31–56.Google Scholar

  • Archangeli, Diana & Terence Langendoen, (eds.) 1997. Optimality theory. An overview. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar

  • Archibald, John. 1996. The Acquisition of Syllable Weight and Foot Type. Paper presented at the Fifth Conference on Laboratory Phonology, Northwestern University, July 1996.

  • Bosworth, Yulia. 2011. Weight and Feet in Québécois. Ph.D. Dissertation. University of Texas at Austin.

  • Bullock, Barbara E. 1994. Does the French syllable have weight? In Michael Mazzola (ed.), Issues and theory in Romance Linguistics, 3–15. Washington, D.C: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar

  • Bullock, Barbara E. 1998. The myth of equivalence. Where two lights do not make a long. In Josée Lema & Esthela Trevino (eds.), Theoretical analyses on Romance languages, 53–70. Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Cedergren, Henrietta J. & Louise Simoneau. 1985. La chute des voyelles hautes enfrançais de Montréal: ‘As-tu entendu la belle syncope? In Monique Lemieux & Henrietta J. Cedergren (eds.), Les tendances dynamiques du français parlé à Montréal, 57–144. Montréal: Office de la langue française

  • Charette, Monique. 1991. Conditions on phonological government. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Cho, Young-Mee Yu & Tracy Holloway King. 2003. Semi-syllables and universal syllabification. In Caroline Féry & Ruben van de Vijver (eds.), The syllable in optimality theory, 183–213. Cambridge: Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar

  • Clements, G.N. 1988. The role of the sonority cycle in core syllabification.Working Papers of the Cornell Phonetics Laboratory, 1–68.

  • Côté, Marie-Hélène. 2008. La syllabation et le relâchement des voyelles hautes en syllabe non-finale en français québécois. Paper presented at Journées PFC, Tulane University.

  • Couturier, Jean-François. 1998. Contribution of phonetic criteria in the linguistic study of the lowering of québécois French high vowels. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Montréal, Montréal.

  • Crosswhite, Katherine M. 2000b. The Analysis of Extreme Vowel Reduction. UCLAWorking Papers in Linguistics 4, 1–12.Google Scholar

  • Déchaine, Rose-Marie. 1991. Stress in Québécois: evidence from high vowels. Papers from the Regional Meetings, CLS, 27, 107–118.

  • Delattre, Pierre. 1966. Studies in French and comparative phonetics. The Hague: Mouton & Co.Google Scholar

  • Dumas, Denis. 1974. Durée vocalique et diphtongaison en français québécois. Cahier de Linguistique 4. 13–52.Google Scholar

  • Dumas, Denis. 1976. Québec French High Vowel Harmony: The Progression of a Phonological Rule. CLS 12. 161–168.Google Scholar

  • Dumas, Denis. 1978. Phonologie des réductions vocaliques en français québécois. Ph.D. dissertation, Université de Montréal.

  • Dumas, Denis. 1981. Structure de la diphtongaison québécoise. Revue canadienne de linguistique 26. 1–61.Google Scholar

  • Dumas, Denis. 1987. Nos façons de parler. Sillery: Presses de l’Université du Québec.Google Scholar

  • Féry, Caroline. 2003. “Final Devoicing and the stratification of the lexicon in German”. In Weijer, Jeroen van de, Vincent J. van Heuven & Harry van der Hulst (eds.), The phonological spectrum: Volume I: segmental structure, 145–169. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

  • Fónagy, Ivan. 1979. L’accent français: accent probabilitaire. In Ivan Fónagy & Pierre Léon (eds.), L’accent en français contemporain, 123–233. Montréal: Didier.Google Scholar

  • Fujimura, Osamu. 1979. An analysis of English syllables as cores and affixes. Zeitschrift für Phonetik, Sprachwissenschaft und Kommunikationsforschung, 32: 471–476

  • Fouché, Pierre. 1959. Traité de pronunciation française, 2nd ed. Paris: Klincksieck.Google Scholar

  • Gendron, Jean-Denis. 1966. Tendances phonétiques du français parlé au Canada. Paris and Québec: Lincksieck and PUL.Google Scholar

  • Goad, Heather & Meagan Buckley. 2006. Prosodic structure in child French. Evidence for foot. Catalan Journal of Linguistics 5. 109–142.Google Scholar

  • Gordon, Matthew. 2002b. A phonetically-driven account of syllable weight. Language 78. 51–80.Google Scholar

  • Gordon, Matthew. 2004b. Syllable weight. In Bruce Hayes, Robert Kirchner & Donca Steriade (eds.), Phonetic Bases for Phonological Markedness, 277–312. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Hayes, Bruce. 1989b. Compensatory lengthening in moraic phonology. Linguistic Inquiry 20. 253–306.Google Scholar

  • Hayes, Bruce.1995. Metrical stress theory. Principles and case studies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar

  • Hyman, Larry. 1985. A theory of phonological weight. Dordrecht: Foris.Google Scholar

  • Itô, Junko & Armin Mester. 1992. Weak layering and word binarity. In Takery Homma, Masao Okazaki, Toshiyuki Tabaka & Shin-ichi Tanaka (eds.), A new century of phonology and phonological theory, 26–65. Tokyo: Kaitakusha.Google Scholar

  • Kager, René. 1997. Rhythmic vowel deletion in Optimality Theory. In Iggy Roca (ed.), Derivations and constraints in phonology, 463–499. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Kager, René. 1999. Optimality theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • McCarthy, John J. & Alan Prince. 1993a. Generalized Alignment. In Geert Booij & Jaap van Marle (eds.), Yearbook of morphology, 79–153. Dordrecht: Kluwer. Also ROA–7.Google Scholar

  • McCarthy, John & Alan Prince. 1993b. Prosodic Morphology I: Constraint Interaction and Satisfaction. Rutgers Technical report TR-3. New Brunswick, Rutgers University Center for Cognitive Science.

  • McCarthy, John & Alan Prince. 1995a. Faithfulness and reduplicative identity. In Beckman, WalshDickey, and Urbanczyk, 249–384.

  • Montreuil, Jean-Pierre. 1992. An underspecification analysis of two French vowel systems. In Theoretical analyses in Romance linguistics (Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 74), Terrel A. Morgan & Christiane Laeufer (eds.), Amsterdam: Benjamins, 115–127.Google Scholar

  • Montreuil, Jean-Pierre. 1993. Prosody, morphology and foot formation in Modern French. Paper presented at the Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages, Northern Illinois University.

  • Montreuil, Jean-Pierre. 1995a. Weight and length in Conservative Regional French. Lingua, 95, 77–96

  • Montreuil, Jean-Pierre. 2004a. Fragmenting weight in Scottish English. In Monica Pulki (ed.), La Tribube Internationale des Langues Vivantes, 36, 114–122. Paris.

  • Montreuil, Jean-Pierre. 2004b. The Computation of weight in English and in Québec French. First PAC Workshop 23–24 April 2004, Université de Toulouse le Mirail.

  • Montreuil, Jean-Pierre. 2005. Le poids phonologique en français québécois. Ms., University of Texas, Austin.

  • Morén, Bruce. 2003. Weight typology: An optimality theoretic approach. The Linguistic Review 20. 281–304.Google Scholar

  • Paradis, Claude & Denise Deshaies. 1991. Rules of stress assignment in Québec French: Evidence from perceptual data. Language Variation and Change 2. 135–154.Google Scholar

  • Phinney, Marianne. 1980. Evidence for a Rhythm Rule in Québec French. Proceedings of the Tenth Meeting of the North Eastern Linguistic Society, Cahiers linguistiques d’Ottawa 9. 369–382.Google Scholar

  • Plénat, Marc. 1987. On the structure of rhyme in Standard French. Linguistics 25. 867–887.Google Scholar

  • Poliquin, Gabriel. 2006. Canadian French Vowel Harmony. Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University.

  • Prince, Alan & Paul Smolensky. 1993/2002/2004. Optimality Theory: Constraint Interaction in Generative Grammar. Blackwell (2004); Technical Report, Rutgers University Center for Cognitive Science and Computer Science Department (2002), University of Colorado at Boulder (1993).

  • Selkirk, Elizabeth. 1978. The French foot: on the status of “mute” e. Studies in French Linguistics 1. 141–150.Google Scholar

  • Scullen, Mary Ellen. 1997. French prosodic morphology: A unified account. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Linguistics Club Publications.Google Scholar

  • Walker, Douglas. 1984. The pronunciation of Canadian French. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press.Google Scholar

  • Zec, D. 2003. Prosodic weight. In Féry, Caroline & Ruben van de Vijver (eds.), The syllable in optimality theory, 123–143. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2016-04-15

Published in Print: 2017-02-01

Citation Information: The Linguistic Review, Volume 34, Issue 1, Pages 39–82, ISSN (Online) 1613-3676, ISSN (Print) 0167-6318, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/tlr-2016-0009.

Export Citation

©2017 by De Gruyter Mouton.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in