Variation et changement phonétiques chez les jeunes adultes québécois

Authors: Riverin-Coutlée, Josiane
Advisor: Roy, Johanna-Pascale
Abstract: Second dialect acquisition (SDA) may be defined as the process by which a geographically mobile individual adapts their linguistic practices to those in use intheir new environment, without learning a new language per se. Typically, this acquisition occurs at the phonetic level, as reflected in the intuitive idea that people who move away “change their accent”. Scientific accounts of SDA have only recently increased in number, as previous linguistic work has mostly focused on the practices of sedentary speakers. At the same time, pronunciation has long been thought to be settled from adolescence on. SDA is a widespread phenomenon given the increasing geographic mobility of individuals, although its phonetic outcomes are especially heterogeneous. Studies addressing this issue highlight the extensive array of factors that might explain why results vary across individuals and linguistic contexts. Internal factors such as the regularity of the rules that need to be learned, or external like the speakers’ integration to their new environment or concern to remain faithful to their origin, have been put forward. Depending on the theoretical perspective, SDA has been interpreted as an automatism, or as a process mediated by various aspects of the communication situation, the relationship between the speaker and their interlocutor, the frequency and recency of the phonetic properties of ambient speech, etc. This contribution is a sociophonetic study of SDA in Quebec. More precisely, 33 native speakers of Quebec French aged 18 to 22 were recruited upon enrollment in an undergraduate program at Université Laval. Eighteen of them were mobile speakers : they had just moved in Quebec City in order to start university, but were from somewhere else in the province. Born and raised in Quebec City, the 15 remaining participants were sedentary. On recruitment (T1), the speakers were recorded in a sound-attenuated booth while reading target words in isolation or inserted in carrier sentences. These target words featured all of the oral vowels of Quebec French in stressed syllable. The vowels were analyzed acoustically : their duration and the frequency and dynamics of their first three formants (F1, F2 and F3) were measured. The participants also completed questionnaires assessing their social integration, belonging to the socio-psychological phase of emerging adulthood and, for the mobiles only, faithfulness to their origin. The experiment was replicated a year later (T2). Results show that fine-grained acoustic changes occurred over time. The vowels moved closer to each other in the F1/F2plane. Frequency of F3 and formant dynamics decreased in some vowels. A reduction of the articulatory movements thus seems to have occurred. However, these changes took viplace in all speakers, whether they be mobile or sedentary. Neither of the other external factors taken into account (integration, emerging adulthood, faithfulness) could explain the changes. Therefore, we hypothesized that the way the participants perceived the experiment had evolved over time. As for the lack of more substantial phonetic shifts in mobile speakers, it could be explained by the short time span between the two experiments, since the first changes taking place during SDA do not usually happen at the phonetic level. Another possibility is that there are not enough dialectal features in Quebec City for the mobile speakers to change systematically, whereas, furthermore, the local population might not even be the main linguistic influence of university students.The mobile participants nonetheless proved aware of differences between their own speech and that of their new environment, suggesting that enhanced linguistic sensitivity may play a role in phonetic change. Further progress in understanding the link between speech perception and production mayalsoshed light on the mechanisms underlying the first stages of SDA. Our results add to those from a growing body of studies evidencing that a certain phonetic flexibility is maintained throughout adulthood.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2019
Open Access Date: 27 May 2019
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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