At this week’s MCQLL meeting, Irene Smith will be presenting “Variation in nasal coarticulation”. Abstract below.

We will be meeting this Tuesday November 14th at 3:00PM. Meetings are held both in person in room 117 of the McGill Linguistics department and on zoom.

Abstract: This talk presents the early stages of a project investigating variation in prenasal coarticulation and expands on plans for future work. Across languages, nasal consonants and vowels are produced by opening up the nasal cavity to the oral tract (by lowering the velum), causing it to acoustically couple with the oral cavity. In languages such as English, vowels can become fully or partially nasalized by lowering the velum in anticipation of a following nasal consonant. Nasal coarticulation is also the pathway to the development of contrastive nasalization in vowels, such as French pain (/pɛ̃/) vs. paix (/pɛ/). In this talk, I will describe how nasal coarticulation is operationalized in the present study, as well as current methodological limitations on studying nasalization which I hope to overcome. Acoustic analysis of English corpus data shows substantial cross-dialect variation in prenasal coarticulation, which has yet to be well described. While additional work is needed to describe the degree and type of variation possible, the results hold implications for the grammar of subphonemic features (such as vowel nasality in English) as well as for sound change (such as the development of nasal vowels).