The relation between spelling and pronunciation
The case of French and the phonological variation /e/ ~ /ε/ in different French dialects
This paper presents a study of the impact of pronunciation on the spelling of /E/ verb endings in French. The pronunciation of /E/ endings varies according to which areas the French language is used. In some areas, the /E/ verb endings are pronounced either /e/ or /ε/, according to the verb tense, whereas in others this opposition has progressively disappeared in time. Since the opposition /e/ ~ /ε/ leads to spelling distinctions, it is hypothesized that contrasting phonological forms may help the writer to avoid spelling errors. To test this hypothesis, 136 fifth-graders from specific different regions were required to transcribe different verb endings in /E/. The transcriptions from areas where the phonological opposition is usually observed were compared with those from areas where the opposition is neutralized. The data reveals that, although there is a tendency for students in areas where phonological opposition is still present to use phonologically compatible endings, the absence of neutralization does not necessarily guarantee the correct selection of verb endings. Keywords: pronunciation; spelling; phonological neutralization; French; verb endings
Published online: 30 January 2012
Cited by other publications
Maynard, Catherine, Catherine Brissaud, Françoise Armand, F. Neveu, B. Harmegnies, L. Hriba & S. Prévost
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