The purpose of this paper is to examine the pronunciation of French schwa by Swedish learners of French as a foreign language. The study investigates how the learners deal with schwa deletion (mute e), which is a very frequent phonological process in spoken French, and also how the learners pronounce the schwa when it is not deleted.
Thirty learners participated in the first part of the study. Their task was to read and repeat isolated terms from two lists of words and to read a short text. The second part of the study consists of dialogues between ten learners.
The results show that many learners have difficulties in pronouncing French schwa correctly. In fact, they often pronounce it as [e] or [ɛ] (e.g. revanche pronounced [ʁevɑ̃ʃ] instead of [ʁəvɑ̃ʃ]). This problem often persists for very advanced learners, even though learners who have spent at least six months in a French-speaking country generally have better results than those who have spent less time in the target culture. However, there is a wide variation among learners and also from one word to another. As to schwa deletion, the results show that the learners delete very few schwas. They make more schwa deletions in conversation than when they read a text, but compared to native French speakers (Lyche 2016), the learners make considerably fewer schwa deletions. Moreover, the learners make very few incorrect schwa deletions, unlike what has been observed among Dutch learners (Nouveau et Detey 2007).
Copyright (c) 2019 Monika Stridfeldt
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