Call for papers, thematic day: French schwa: Old stories, new ideas?

This year, the annual Journées FLORAL-PFC in Paris (17th-19th November) opens with a thematic day on schwa (see

 Ever since 2002, the international research programme PFC (Phonologie du français contemporain), which brings together linguists working on French corpus phonology, has been organising an annual conference in Paris. The event has become known for its strong commitment to moving the field forward in a welcoming, but scientifically critical environment, and the conference thus creates a venue for new as well as experienced researchers who want to discuss ongoing research ­– be it on little known or well-known phenomena in, or relating to, French phonology.

At this year’s conference (17th-19th November), the first day will be fully devoted to schwa, which, next to liaison, constitutes one of the most widely discussed phenomena in French phonology. Being defined as a phonetically variable vowel (often mid front rounded) that alternates with zero, schwa’s many-faceted nature presents aspects best explained with reference to phonetics, morphology, lexicon, and orthography. In addition, its alternations, as well as its temporal and spectral characteristics, have proven subject to regional, social, stylistic, situational and medial variation. Nevertheless, whereas the study of large spoken corpora in the last decades has led to a complete revision of the analysis of French liaison, finely documenting its complex variation, an overall, data-driven debate on how to formally account for the rich complexity of French schwa still constitutes a lacuna in the literature.

The thematic day aims at filling some of the gaps in our knowledge about schwa, and we invite abstracts for 20-minute paper presentations, followed by 10-minute discussions, that address one or several of the above issues. Depending on the number of received abstracts, we may be able to consider other presentation formats.

A one-page abstract, including title and references, can be sent to Helene N. Andreassen ( Elissa Pustka ( Friday 30th September. Note that we welcome presentations in English and French.

Please do not hesitate to diffuse the invitation to other linguists who might be interested in participating.

This year, the conference is held at Cité universitaire internationale, Maison de Norvège, on 17th-19th November. It is organised in collaboration with ESLO (Enquête Socio-Linguistique à Orléans), with whom PFC entered a cooperation in 2014. Since then, the official name of the annual conference and the research programme is FLORAL-PFC (Français Langue ORAle et Linguistique).

For more information about the research programme and the conference, cf.

Welcome to Paris!


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