Swedish 'damped' /i/ and /y/: Experimental and typological observations  

Sven Björsten and Olle Engstrand

Proceedings of the XIVth International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (1999): 1957-1960
(San Francisco, USA)  

ABSTRACT

In scattered Swedish dialects, the vowels /i/ and /y/ are pronounced with a markedly low F2. This results in a 'damped' vowel quality that appears to be rather unusual in a typological perspective. To date, however, no experimental studies of this vowel type have been carried out using Swedish material. In this paper, formant frequencies are presented for one dialect suggesting that the /i/ vs. /y/ contrast has been neutralized, and that the resulting vowel should be associated with unrounded high central [ö]. This hypothesis was corroborated by a articulatory simulation thus suggesting that the damped vowels found in the Swedish dialects are members of a relatively common vowel type. This was supported by preliminary perceptual evidence suggesting that Swedish listeners accept Turkish [ö] as an instance of the Swedish damped vowel and, conversely, that Turkish listeners accept this vowel as an instance of Turkish [ö].  

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