Schwa deletion in the conversational speech of English: The role of linguistic factors

Na-Young Ryu; Sung-Hoon Hong
August 2013
Linguistic Research;Aug2013, Vol. 30 Issue 2, p313
Academic Journal
In this study we investigate schwa deletion and the role of three linguistic factors based on the Buckeye Speech Corpus (Pitt et al. 2007). This study provides evidence that schwa deletion is strongly influenced by stress environment (pre-stress position vs. post-stress position), sonority distance between two consonants surrounding an unstressed vowel [?], and lexical frequency of the word containing the schwa. Stress environment affects schwa deletion in such a way that schwa is more likely to delete in post-stress position than in pre-stress position. As for the effect of sonority, schwa deletion is more likely to occur when there is a greater difference in sonority between the two consonants that appear before and after the schwa. With respect to word frequency, schwa deletion is less frequent in low frequency words than in high frequency words. We conduct a logistic regression analysis to find out how influential these factors are. The results of the regression analysis show that stress environment is the most pervasive, sonority the next, and lexical frequency the least influential factor that affects schwa deletion.


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