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The /el/-/æl/ merger in Australian English: Acoustic and articulatory insights

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  • Chloé Diskin
  • Deborah Loakes
  • Rosey Billington
  • Hywel Stoakes
  • Simón Gonzalez
  • Sam Kirkham
Publication date5/08/2019
Host publicationProceedings of the 19th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences
EditorsSasha Calhoun, Paola Escudero, Marija Tabain, Paul Warren
Place of PublicationCanberra, Australia
PublisherAustralasian Speech Science and Technology Association Inc.
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9780646800691
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper investigates a merger-in-progress of /e/-/æ/ in prelateral contexts for speakers of Australian English in Victoria. Twelve participants (7F, 5M) were recorded producing a wordlist resulting in acoustic and concurrent articulatory data via stabilised mid-sagittal ultrasound tongue imaging. Focusing on a subset of the data comprising short front vowels /ɪ, e, æ/ in /hVt/ and /hVl/ contexts, findings show that there are robust acoustic differences between /e/ and /æ/ preceding /t/, as anticipated. However, individual differences emerge for /e/ and /æ/ preceding /l/, with highly gradient production patterns across the speakers, ranging from speakers who exhibit merger behaviour to those who maintain categorical distinctions. The evidence for merging behaviour across speakers is similar, but does not map directly, across both the acoustic and articulatory data, and illustrates the value of incorporating a range of data types in investigating a merger-in-progress.