Forthcoming: French schwa: Phonological analysis in light of quantitative data

Helene N. Andreassen   Elissa Pustka  


Since long, schwa is, together with liaison, a widely discussed phenomenon in French phonology. What singles this French vowel out is that it does not constitute a schwa in the narrow sense, neither phonetically, in the sense of not being acoustically “neutral”, nor phonologically, in the sense of being target for, and not the result of, a reduction process. Rather, being broadly defined as a phonetically mid, front rounded vowel that alternates with zero, its many-faceted nature has aspects best explained with reference to phonetics, morphology, lexicon, and orthography. In addition, its alternation, as well as its temporal and spectral characteristics, have proven subject to regional, social, stylistic, situational, and medial variation. Whereas the study of large spoken corpora in the last decades has completely revised the analysis of French liaison, an overall, data-driven debate on how to formally account for the rich complexity observed for French schwa is still a desideratum. The present volume aims to contribute to filling this lacuna by introducing new analyses of schwa on the basis of studies of large data samples from a variety of recently collected corpora of spoken French.


  • Introduction: French schwa in the 21st century
    Why is the marriage between quantitative data analysis and formal theory a step in the right direction?
    Helene N. Andreassen, Elissa Pustka
  • From diachrony to synchrony
    The French Schwa between stability and instability
    Joshua M. Griffiths, Bernard Laks
  • Stabilizing schwa in V#C_C in reading data from the Paris region
    The interplay of linguistic and social factors
    Anita Berit Hansen
  • Frequency effects on French schwa
    New insights from Parisian newscasters’ speech
    Elissa Pustka, Marc Chalier
  • Levelling of schwa in Southern French
    A reexamination of grammar-internal and grammar-external forces
    Léa Courdès-Murphy, Jacques Durand
  • Schwa in internationalisms
    True or false friends in French as a foreign language?
    Elisabeth Heiszenberger, Elissa Pustka
  • Constraints on the duration of word-final schwa in Southern French
    Julien Eychenne, Benjamin Storme
  • An examination of Swiss French child language data
    Why the epenthesis approach to schwa in word-initial syllables does not hold
    Helene N. Andreassen
  • Why schwa is not a phoneme in (Northern) French
    Distributional and acoustic evidence
    Marie-Hélène Côté
  • Acquisition of schwa alternation in adult learners of French
    The importance of quantity and quality of immersion
    Isabelle Racine, Helene N. Andreassen, Romain Isely, Sylvain Detey


Helene N. Andreassen

Helene N. Andreassen holds a PhD in French Linguistics from UiT The Arctic University of Norway (2013). She currently works as Senior Research Librarian at UiT where she focuses among other things on management of linguistic research data, e.g. by functioning as co-chair of the RDA Linguistics Data Interest Group and co-manager of the international Tromsø Repository of Language and Linguistics (TROLLing). Her research centers around the acquisition of French phonology and Swiss French adult phonology.

Elissa Pustka

Elissa Pustka is a University Professor of Romance Linguistics and Communication Science at the University of Vienna (Austria). She obtained her PhD from the universities of Paris X-Nanterre (France) and LMU Munich (Germany) in 2006 and her habilitation thesis from the LMU Munich in 2013. Her research focus is on phonology, (staged) orality, perception, creolistics, linguistic landscape studies and language learning and teaching.

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June 12, 2023
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Cite as
N. Andreassen, Helene & Pustka, Elissa (eds.). Forthcoming. French schwa: Phonological analysis in light of quantitative data. (Language Variation). Berlin: Language Science Press.


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