An acoustic analysis of West Frisian monophthongs

TitleAn acoustic analysis of West Frisian monophthongs
Publication TypePresentation
Year of Publication2022
Conference NameDag van de Fonetiek 2022
AuthorsKingma, Martijn
PublisherNederlandse Vereniging voor Fonetische Wetenschappen
Conference LocationUtrecht, The Netherlands

Previous literature on Modern West Frisian reports a fairly large vowel inventory, including 18 monophthongs consisting of nine vowel pairs distinguished by length. Yet, this extensive vowel system has hardly been subject to phonetic investigation. Here, I report some preliminary findings of an ongoing investigation into some acoustic properties (F1, F2 and duration) of the 9 short and 9 long monophthongs of this minority language. Based on corpus data from 2017-2019 of native speakers from the former municipality Boarnsterhim, realisations of 6 older males are compared with 6 younger female speakers. Vowels were measured preceding [t] or [s] in closed, stressed syllables of content words in spontaneous speech. Besides providing a preliminary acoustic description of Frisian monophthongs in spontaneous speech, some sound changes are looked at in more detail. The first analyses reveal at least one obvious change in progress: younger speakers show the tendency to diphthongise the long high vowels [iː yː uː] to [iˑə yˑə uˑə]. This change could impact the Frisian vowel inventory, as these diphthongs hold phonemic value (see the minimal pair wiid [ʋiːt] ‘wide’ vs. wiet [ʋiˑət] ‘wet’). Tracking the origin and spread of this merger could provide new insights into how Frisian is changing, possibly under the influence of Dutch.