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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

How nosy are you? An acoustic analysis of Brazilian Portuguese nasal vowels by native speakers and second language learners
by Bailey, Ann Aly, M.A., The Florida State University, 2012, 78; 1519264
Abstract (Summary)

Although it is acknowledged that Portuguese has a phonemic contrast between oral and nasal vowels, few acoustic studies examine their acoustic traits and differences. Some of these studies include Kelm (1989), which focuses on the difference between oral and nasal /a/ in southern Brazil, Gigliotti de Sousa (1994), which investigates nasal and oral monophthongs in southern Brazil, and Moraes et al. (2002) gives an acoustic description of oral vowels from various regions of Brazil.

The present study contributes to the investigation of vowels in Portuguese with an acoustic study of oral and nasal vowels in 6 speakers from various regions of Brazil. In addition, it examines the acoustic realization of oral and nasal vowels in 4 L1 speakers of Spanish learning Portuguese as an L3, on which there are no previous studies. The main objectives are (i) to compare articulatory differences between oral and nasal vowels, such as height, advancement, and duration and (ii) to examine whether L2 Portuguese speakers are able to contrast between oral and nasal vowels in Portuguese. Data was analyzed using Praat (Boesrma and Weenink 2012).

Results for vowel duration reveal a significant effect for type of vowel (oral or nasal) for all cases except /a/. The difference between oral and nasal vowels was mediated by the L1 only for /i/. There was also a significantly longer duration within both L1 groups for nasal /i/ when compared to oral /i/. Because the production of nasal vowels includes velic lowering (Kelm 1989), it is expected that nasal vowels differ in height from oral vowels. Analysis of formant frequencies showed a significant height difference for nasal /a/, but not the other vowels examined. Anti-resonance frequencies showed high amounts of variation, which could be due to the small sample size or individual differences in vocal tract size. There were no significant differences due to L1 for nasal murmurs, formants, or anti-resonances, which suggests that the L1 Spanish participants are at a level of competence which allows for inhibition of their L1 and near-native production of vowels in a typologically related language.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gonzalez, Carolina
Commitee: Leeser, Michael, Sunderman, Gretchen
School: The Florida State University
Department: Modern Languages
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: MAI 51/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, Modern language
Keywords: Acquisition of phonology, Linguistics, Phonetics, Phonology, Portuguese, Spanish
Publication Number: 1519264
ISBN: 978-1-267-63865-6
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