Re-examining the /eː-εː/ merger in Finland-Swedish: Regional and stylistic variation

Janine Astrid Elvina Strandberg*, Charlotte Gooskens, Anja Schüppert

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article examines regional and stylistic variation in the merger of front vowels /eː/ and /ɛː/ in Finland-Swedish. The study investigates the merger by comparing formant data from 141 speakers from four Swedish-speaking regions in Finland. Additionally, intraspeaker variation is explored by incorporating samples from three contextual styles. The results indicate cross-regional differences between Finland-Swedish dialects, with a more distinct variant of /ɛː/ being used on the monolingually Swedish-speaking Åland Islands, compared to other regions. However, the findings show that speakers from mainland Finland also demonstrate significantly different formant values for the vowels, particularly in formal speech styles. These results challenge the assumption of a complete /eː-ɛː/ merger in Finland-Swedish, instead pointing to a near-merger, whereby two sounds sound the same to speakers, despite them being differentiated in production. The findings also shed new light on stylistic variation in the variety.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages32
JournalLanguage Variation and Change
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21-Oct-2022

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