Journal of the International Phonetic Association

F2 variation in Newcastle and Leeds English liquid systems

Paul Carter a1 and John Local a1
a1 Department of Language and Linguistic Science, University of York,

Article author query
carter p   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
local j   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


In this paper we present a production study designed to explore the relationship between three observations which have previously been made about liquids in British English: first, that laterals have prosodically-determined ‘clear’ (syllable-initial) and ‘dark’ (syllable-final) variants; second, that some varieties of English have either clear [1] in all positions or dark [l] in all positions; third, that some varieties with clear [1] have dark [r] while some varieties with dark [1] have clear [r] (in broad phonetic transcription). We take F2 as an acoustic correlate of clearness/darkness and report on F2 variation in two representative varieties of British English, one which has clear initial [1] (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) and one with dark initial [1] (Leeds). We show that Newcastle English has higher F2 frequencies in [1] than in [r] and that the reverse pattern is found in Leeds English. These patterns can also be found in adjacent unstressed vowels but not in adjacent stressed vowels. Final [1] in both varieties has a lower F2 than initial [1]. In intervocalic contexts, these F2 distinctions in the liquids are observed in iambic words for both varieties. In trochaic words they are observed for Leeds only, though the vowel effects can be observed in both varieties. We discuss some phonological consequences of these findings.

(Published Online July 25 2007)