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					                        Phonetic space of Michif back vowels
                          Richelle Staehr & Nicole Rosen

This poster investigates the phonetic space of non-low back vowels in Michif, a
French-Cree mixed language spoken by a few hundred Métis people in the Canadian
and American prairies. This paper deals specifically with Manitoban speakers.

Rosen (2007) reports variation of the high back vowels, where /u/ may surface as [o]
or [u], but where /o/ never surfaces as [u]. Consider the following examples.
        (1)      /li + pu/     [li pu] ~ [li po]
                  PL+louse
                  ‘lice’
        (2)      /li + po/     [lipo] ~ * [li+pu]
                  PL+hide
                  ‘hides’
The phonetic space of these vowels is interesting from a historical perspective given
that this constitutes a conflict site between the inventories of the mother languages of
Michif, French and Plains Cree. The Plains Cree vowel inventory has only one high
back vowel, described as ‘lower high’ and phonemicized as /o:/ by Wolfart (1997), and
French has both /u/ and /o/.

It might be expected that Cree /o:/ would vary more than French /u/ or /o/, given that
the single back vowel would occupy more phonetic space in the overall vowel system
than in a language with two back vowels. This variation does appear to exist
impressionistically, but note that what is more interesting is that the words which have
a historically French /u/ also vary phonetically in Michif, as shown in the examples in
(1)-(2). It is posited that in the creation of Michif, vocabulary items with French /u/
have been mapped onto Cree /o:/, which would explain the variation exhibited in
Michif.

Results from formant analysis will be presented for Michif tokens with Cree-source
/o:/ and French source /o/ and /u/ to inform these impressionistic descriptions of the
language.

				
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