Linguistics 120a/520a
General Phonetics

French Vowels


(a) When you click here you will find transfer functions of then (oral) vowels of French, numbered 1-8.  For ease of interpretation and comparison, vertical lines mark the location of the first three formant frequencies. Note that in some cases, two formants merge into a single peak. Your first task is to plot the vowels numbered 1-8 on the formant chart provided here. (Do this roughly--don't fret over millimeters).

(b) When you click here, you will find articulatory data for the same eight French vowels, labeled A-H. The data for each vowel show a tracing of a mid-sagittal x-ray image, and a tracing of a photograph of the of the lips (and teeth), looking at the speaker's face from the front.  Based on this data, plot the vowels (A-H) roughly on the cardinal vowel charts also provided below. 

            Hint 1:  It's helpful if you first divide the vocal tract shapes into broad classes such as front unrounded, front rounded, back rounded, and then try to look for height distinctions within each class.

            Hint 2:  Articulations A and E are front vowels. E is rounded, A is not.

(c) For each vowel in the cardinal vowel chart, add a symbol that could reasonably be used to transcribe it.

 (d) Using the formant chart you made to help you, match the formant frequencies (1-8) to the articulations (A-H), by placing the letter of the appropriate articulation next to the matching spectrum.         

 (e) In the table below, characterize the tongue shape for each of the eight vowels in terms of the quantal theory of vowels: (Constriction Location = Palatal, velar, uvular, pharyngeal; Jaw Height = hi, lo)

Jaw Height
A ____________ ____________ ____________
B ____________ ____________ ____________
C ____________ ____________ ____________
D ____________ ____________ ____________
E ____________ ____________ ____________
F ____________ ____________ ____________
G ____________ ____________ ____________
H ____________ ____________ ____________

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