[en] This study is part of a broader research project about the processes involved in the acquisition
of new phonetic variants in second language learning. Our main experimental paradigm is designed
to investigate the production/perception link in phonetic learning . In this paper, we focus on the
acquisition of the appropriate inter-gestural timing for the production of nasal vowels from listeners
of a given regiolect (R1, here: Belgian French), when they are exposed to the productions of a second
regiolect (R2, here: Southern French). The main working hypothesis underlying this study is that the
mechanisms involved in the processing of speech sounds arising from regional variation are (at least)
partly similar to those involved in L2 learning, provided that R1 and R2 are different enough at the
phonetic and phonological levels to be perceived as such by native speakers.
The case of French nasal vowels is particularly appropriate because the phonetic realization
of the oral/nasal phonemic contrast strongly differs across regiolects. In Southern French nasalization
can be delayed until the middle point of the vowel, and is typically followed by a so-called 'nasal
appendix' which is comparable to the phonetic realization of a phonemic nasal consonant [2,3,4].
In a first descriptive study , we provided a comparative gestural account of nasal vowels in
Belgian French (BF) vs. Southern French (SF). Results showed that the major difference lies in the
specific timing of a velum gesture of fixed duration relatively to the glottal and oral gestures (Fig.1).
As a consequence, mastering vowel nasalization for BF R1 / SF R2 speakers involves acquiring the
appropriate motor control regimes to produce new patterns of inter-gestural timing, i.e.
desynchronizing the velum gesture from the glottal and/or oral gestures (in /v).c[stop]/ sequences).
Interestingly, we found some occurences of short 'nasal appendices' for a couple of BF speakers in
/pç)pe/, /tA)te/, and (once only) /kE)te/. These nasal appendices resulted from the production of a
longer velum gesture, i.e. the velum lowering started unchangedly at the onset of the nasal vowel but
the velum rising was delayed with respect to the oral closing gesture (see dashed line in Fig.1). One
explanatory hypothesis resides in the co-occurrence of two competing gestures in the velar region,
either due to the coproduction of the velum gesture with the backwards tongue gesture within /ç)/,
(and/)or due to the coarticulation of the velum gesture with the overlapping velar tongue closing
gesture for /k/. In this study, we test this hypothesis, in that we investigate whether there is a
facilitator effect of velar coproduction/coarticulation for BF speakers engaged in learning Marseille
nasal vowels realizations (at least as far as nasal appendix is concerned).
Twenty BF speakers from Tournai will participate in the experiment. They are currently
being recruited. The experimental paradigm consists of two parts. The first part is a calibration
phase, in which participants are recorded in a production task (to check that their pronunciation is
typical from their regiolect) and in a foreign speech imitation task (to assess their individual ability to
reproduce unfamiliar speech sounds). Performances in the calibration phase lead to the constitution
of two quasi equivalent subgroups of 10 speakers each.
For both groups of participants, the second part of the experiment is made of several
successive phases: one pre-test (at t-1hour), the experimental treatment (at t=0) and three post-tests
(at t+1hour, t+1day, t+1week). Speakers are asked to 'repeat the word [they just heard] as faithfully
as possible, as if it was a word from a foreign language'. The contrasted treatments of the
experimental phase are obtained by contrasting the sets of stimuli used in the two groups. For that
purpose, two sets (A and B) of 8 stimuli each have been drawn from pre-recorded productions of 4
Marseille speakers (all stimuli are bi-syllabic CV)CV pseudo-words); from pre-recorded productions,
we have selected specific occurrences matching for total duration and relative duration of their
subsegmental components (oralized vowel part, nasalized vowel part, nasal appendix) across and
within speakers. In stimulus set A (+coproduction/+coarticulation), C1 and C2 are /k,g/, V) is /ç)/ and V2
is /o,u/. In stimulus set B (-coproduction/-coarticulation), C1 and C2 are /t,d/, V) is /E)/ and V2 is /e,i/.
Thus, in the experimental treatment, the words from set A are presented 10 times to one group of
participants, whereas the words from set B are presented 10 times to the other group. In pre- and
post-tests, all words from set A and B are presented twice to all participants.
Following the methodology used in our descriptive study , an acoustic analysis will be
carried out in order to assess the speakers' success in the imitation task. Performances will be
compared between pre-test and post-test, as well as along the test phase, in both experimental groups,
in order to test for (i) the facilitating effect of the +coproduction/+coarticulation training stimulus set,
and (ii) the robustness of the potential acquisition of novel patterns of intergestural timing. Potential
implications of our results for didactic strategies to be used in L2 teaching will also be discussed at
 Delvaux V., Huet K., Piccaluga M., Harmegnies B. 2008. Perceptually driven VOT lengthening
in initial stops by French-L1 English L2-learners. Proc. of the 8th International Seminar on Speech
Production, Strasbourg, 149-152.
 Clairet, S. 2008. Une étude aérodynamique de la nasalité vocalique en français méridional , Actes
des 27ièmes JEP, Avignon, 297-300.
 Teston, B., Demolin, D. 1998. Articulatory and aerodynamic aspects of nasal vowels in French,
Travaux Interdisciplinaires du Laboratoire Parole et Langage d'Aix-en-Provence (TIPA) 18, 50-59.
 Watbled, J. P. 1995. Segmental and suprasegmental structure in Southern French, in C.Smith et
M.Maiden (eds) Linguistic Theory and the Romance Languages, Current Issues in Linguistic Theory
 Huet, K., Clairet, S., Delmée, G., Delvaux, V., Piccaluga, M. & Harmegnies, B. In press.
Comparaison du timing inter-gestuel des voyelles nasales en français de Marseille et de Tournai,
Actes des 28ièmes JEP, 25-28 Mai 2010, Mons.