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  • 1 ALOES: Association des anglicistes pour les études de langue orale dans l’enseignement supérieur, s (...)
  • 2 PLEIADE is a multidisciplinary research centre of the University of Paris 13 - Sorbonne Paris Cité.

1This 2021 thematic issue of Anglophonia springs from what would have been the 20th Villetaneuse Conference on Spoken English. The conference was organised by ALOES1 and PLEIADE2 and was due to be hosted by the University of Paris 13 - Sorbonne Paris Cité in March 2020. On account of the Covid-19 pandemic, it had to be rescheduled to April 2022, with a new call for papers. This issue of Anglophonia is an opportunity to have an insight into some of the papers that would have been presented had it not been for the pandemic. In addition, other contributors have joined in, making this an autonomous issue centred on phonetics and phonology, as considered from the perspectives of representations and variability.

2The notion of representation is central to phonetics and phonology. IPA-based transcriptions, stress marks, dictionary entries, phonological modelling, image-based data on articulators, formants and spectral energy, the positioning of a specific vowel within the acoustic space, and even the correlation between social and phonetic variables constitute as many representations of pronunciations. Variability is also at the heart of this issue of Anglophonia, whether it concerns the variability with which L2 learners of English learn English phonology and produce phonetic forms that are variably influenced by the phonology of their first language, or whether it is based on the intra- and inter-speaker variation that is inherent to the production of native spoken English. From the point of view of the hearer, the perception of a given accent is also subject to much variation and can condition the social meaning attributed to specific pronunciations and speakers, which brings us back to the notion of representations. This special issue of Anglophonia, entitled Phonetics and phonology: representations and variability, is composed of eight papers organised around three different perspectives. The first three papers deal with data and data processing, the three following with sociolinguistics and linguistic change and the last two are concerned with the phonological dimension of the learning of English.

3The first article, ‘Labiodentals /r/ here to stay: deep learning explains why’, by Hannah King (Université de Paris) and Emmanuel Ferragne (Université de Paris), deals with experimental and articulatory phonetics. It gives the reader an insight into the use of deep learning-based methods to answer phonetic questions. The research question raised in this paper is whether /r/ has a labiodental articulation in addition to its lingual articulation in Anglo-English, the variety of English spoken in England, at a time when non-lingual labiodental articulations ([ʋ]) are reportedly on the rise. The results attest to the effectiveness of the method: an artificial convolutional neural network is able to detect the labial difference between /r/ and /w/ with a very high accuracy, and an artificial neural network is able to measure the lip configuration and shows that /r/ does have a labiodental articulation. The paper also demonstrates that this innovative technique has very interesting implications for phonetic analysis.

4The next two articles are empirical studies dealing with British English based on dictionary data. ‘Secondary stress in contemporary British English: an overview’, by Quentin Dabouis (Université Clermont Auvergne), presents a detailed review of the literature on the nature and placement of secondary stress in English, along with results from recent studies using dictionary data. The study overall confirms what was known about secondary stress in English but brings a more fine-grained understanding of the phenomenon. Organised into two main parts (first the state of the art and then an experimental study), it explores the different approaches to secondary stress, the various issues related to its placement (constraints, morphology, syllabic structure, etc.) and, thanks to a detailed analysis of the corpus, gives useful results and opens the argument to other tracks and other methodologies.

5In his paper entitled ‘The suffix -ee: history, productivity, frequency and violation of stress rules’, Ives Trevian (Université de Paris) presents an in-depth study of the suffix -ee. The author follows linguists like Bauer (1983), Barker (1998), Plag (2003) or Mühleisen (2010), according to whom -ee has become a very productive suffix, no longer confined to its original role in legal language as a patient suffix contrasted with the agent suffix -or (e.g. bailor/ bailee). The purpose of the paper is to show how this historical process came into being, to examine the suffix in terms of its productivity and ascertain the frequency of -ee suffixed nouns by confronting the author’s own corpus drawn from dictionary data with Google Books Ngram Viewer and the Collins Dictionary’s Recorded Usage Charts. The last part of the paper takes a close look at the stress pattern of words suffixed in -ee and the author shows that the suffix is not fully integrated yet, as attested by the violation of stress adjacency that it allows.

6In ‘Some sociolinguistic evaluations of performances of the California Vowel Shift: a matched-guise study’, Pierre Habasque (Université Bordeaux Montaigne) opens the section on sociolinguistic variation and change with a paper on the social meanings that can be attributed to performances of the California Vowel Shift (CVS). Speakers whose pronunciations have undergone the CVS have often been parodically portrayed as inexperienced and superficial in the media. Following a perceptual study undertaken at California State University, Northridge, the author confirms that recordings of people performing the CVS are rather negatively valuated. He puts forward four hypotheses to account for the negative perceptions: the influence of media representations, the principle of sound iconicity, a ‘linguistic uncanny valley’, or a form of linguistic misogyny.

7In ‘Intra-speaker phonetic micro-variation, and its relationship to phonetic and phonological change’, Florent Chevalier (Université de Poitiers) examines the way that short-term speech accommodation can be one of the mechanisms for community-level sound change over time. He studies intra-speaker phonetic micro-variation patterns in four dyads, recorded in the 1980s in Glasgow, with a specific focus on the vowels /i/ and /ʉ/. With the benefit of hindsight, he hypothesises that intra-speaker variation in vowel quantity and quality in the recordings from the 1980s will mirror the sound changes that have since then characterised vernacular Glaswegian English. The results do not validate the hypothesis; however, they allow the author to argue that the study of the correlations between accommodation processes and long-time sound change should be considered within the framework provided by the ‘audience design model’ (Bell 1984).

8Bilingualism and linguistic contact are at the heart of Julie Rouaud’s paper (Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès), ‘French and English Phonologies in Contact: The Case of Montreal English’. The large Anglophone community of Montreal has shown sign of increasing English-French bilingualism since the 1970s on account of the linguistic contact that is typical of the city. The author works from the premise that the variety of English spoken by the Anglophones of Montreal is particularly influenced by French. From her own spoken corpus of Montreal English, she studies four features that could constitute actual markers of francisation: assibilation, /r/-realisations, /y/-realisations and nasal vowels, following the PAC Programme methodology (Phonologie de l’Anglais Contemporain : usage, variétés, structure). The results tend to confirm her hypothesis.

9Monika Pukli (Université de Strasbourg) opens the section on the learning of English phonology with ‘The Potential Role of Surprisal in Predicting Pronunciation Problems in L2 English Phonology’. She hypothesises that very high-surprisal words (unfamiliar words with very low frequency and complex articulation) and very low-surprisal words (familiar words with high frequency and simple articulation) are most often mispronounced by L2 speakers of English. In doing so, she is testing whether the native phonologisation model proposed by Hume and Mailhot (2013) may be adapted to L2 phonology. However, her analysis of pronunciation errors made by French speakers of English does not point to any significant correlation between word surprisal categories and mispronunciations. She finds that there is an irregular relationship between the CEFR levels corresponding to lexical items and the number of errors: apart from the C2 level, the number of mispronunciations surprisingly decreases when moving from the ‘easiest’ A1 words to the ‘most difficult’ C1 words.

10The last paper of the volume is entitled ‘Voice assimilation of morphemic -s in the L2 English of L1 French, L1 Italian and L1 Spanish learners’. It is co-authored by Leonardo Contreras Roa, Paolo Mairano, Marc Capliez and Caroline Bouzon (Université de Lille). The authors present the issues of inflectional /z/ in phonetic, acoustic, and phonological terms, in both English and the three L1s of the learners studied (French, Spanish and Italian), according to a justified classical comparative approach (Fledge 1984 and 1995, Best 1995), to which the principle of ‘markedness’ is added. The whole constitutes the theoretical framework by means of which the hypotheses are formulated. The data used for the study are drawn from the IPCE-IPAC corpus of learner oral productions. Given the different distributions of /s, z/ in the participants’ L1s and based on Speech Learning Model (SLM) and Perceptual Assimilation Model (PAM), the authors expected differences in periodicity across groups. Their predictions were only partially reflected by the results of the study, and the authors propose that such results are due to the different phonotactic constraints affecting [s] and [z] in the learners’ L1s. These results, which have to be confirmed with more data, have potential repercussions on models of L2 phonology acquisition.

11Three other papers are joined to this issue as “varias” bearing respectively on syntax, semantics and discourse analysis. Joasha Boutault (Université de Poitiers) chose to address the so-called ‘tough construction’ of the form ADJ + TO + V (“easy to use”) and to reopen the debate whether the adjective governing such constructions corresponds to the object of the verb or entertains other types of relations with the infinitival verb. Sylvie Hancil (Université de Rouen) wishes to extend the study of the final ‘but’ beyond current synchronic approaches in American and Australian English to study its occurrence in Northern English through a corpus spanning from 1960 to 2010 (DECTE corpus). She shows that the conjunction progressively joins the category of final particles while its semantic value is being enriched.

12Finally, Sarah Bourse (Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès) chose to focus on a corpus of recent political speeches belonging to the “post-truth” era and dealing with drug reform in the US. She examines their argumentative structure and the way they appeal to pathos and emotions leading to an original in-depth analysis of the implicit strategies in contemporary political speech.

13We wish our readers the best of health and hope to meet them again in 2021 as well as the following years.

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Barker, Chris. “Episodic -ee in English: a thematic role constraint on word formation.” Language 74 (1998): 695-727.

Bauer, Laurie. English Word-Formation. Cambridge: Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics, 1983.

Bell, Allan. “Language Style as Audience Design.” Language in Society 13:2 (1984): 145-204.

Best, Catherine. “A Direct Realist View of Cross-Language Speech Perception.” In Speech Perception and Linguistic Experience: Issues in Cross-Language Research, edited by Winifred Strange. Timonium, MD: York Press, 1995: 171–204.

Flege, James E. “Second Language Speech Learning: Theory, Findings, and Problems.” In Speech Perception and Linguistic Experience: Issues in Cross-Language Research, edited by Winifred Strange. Timonium, MD: York Press, 1995: 233–77, doi:10.1111/j.1600-0404.1995.tb01710.x.

Flege, James E. “The Effect of Linguistic Experience on Arabs’ Perception of the English /s/ vs. /z/ Contrast.” Folia Lingüística 18: 1-2 (1984): 117–38.

Hume, Elizabeth and Frédéric Mailhot. "The Role of Entropy and Surprisal in Phonologization and Language Change. In Origins of Sound Patterns: Approaches to Phonologization, edited by Alan C. L. Yu. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013: 29-47.

Mühleisen, Susanne. Heterogeneity in Word-Formation Patterns. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2010.

Plag, Ingo. Word-Formation in English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

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1 ALOES: Association des anglicistes pour les études de langue orale dans l’enseignement supérieur, secondaire et primaire,

2 PLEIADE is a multidisciplinary research centre of the University of Paris 13 - Sorbonne Paris Cité.

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Electronic reference

Olivier Glain, Sylvie Hanote and Henri Le Prieult, “Editorial”Anglophonia [Online], 30 | 2020, Online since 20 December 2020, connection on 29 May 2023. URL:; DOI:

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About the authors

Olivier Glain

Université Saint-Étienne Jean-Monnet

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Sylvie Hanote

Université de Poitiers

Henri Le Prieult

Université Jean Jaurès

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