Observing the population in general, it can be seen that a common linguistic understanding for most Brazilian Portuguese speakers is that words in Portuguese always end in vowels, despite some sounds such as /s/ and /m/. In other words, they think that words in Portuguese never end in consonant sounds, such as /t/ or /g/. This proposition is also intimately connected to current observations regarding the learning process of certain foreign languages, such as English. According to Alves (2008), in a process of linguistic features transposition from one language to another, BP speakers would add epenthetic vowels to final-word consonants in English.
However, several phonetics studies, such as Meneses (2012) and Dubiela (2016), show that vowels can be unvoiced - that is to say, be performed without vocal fold vibration - or may cease to be performed, an event present in several BP dialects. Thus, tonicity in BP would not only lead to qualitative differentiation between stressed and unstressed vowels; but, interacting with other linguistic features, would also allow the elision of unstressed vowels.
Considering that, research has found some major generalizations about word final-vowel (WFV) that shows interaction among many variables. Several studies, including Dubiela (2016), Meneses (2012) and Dias and Seara (2013), sustain the hypothesis "the lower, higher vowels are the first affected in a process of reduction and gradual erasure." (VIEGAS & OLIVEIRA, 313, 2008). In addition, Dias and Seara (2013) conclude that most elision in unstressed vowels occurred when they were facing unvoiced consonant contexts, mainly occlusive consonants. However, there are not many studies which also support their findings.
Variation in vowel production and misproduction through interaction of different variables allows approaching BP language as a Complex Adaptive System (CAS). According to Lansing (2013), complex adaptive systems are a subset of nonlinear dynamic systems. That is to say they are systems resulting from co-occurrence and interaction between different variables. This approach would give, for example, more scientific support for approaching language as interaction of variables co-occurring together, as morphology and phonology.
One might argue that variationist research lines, most research about BP vowels, do not have the necessary approach for deepening research in a variable manner. Thus, Meneses (2012), based on Silva (2002), adds that dynamic models succeed in analyzing events such as segment weakening or elision, either by showing phonic gradients or by describing the temporality of speech. Thus, Meneses (2012) and Dubiela (2016) conclude that the most appropriate analysis model that deals with vowels and elision is Gestural Phonology, which includes time as constituent of languages sound level analysis.
Unfortunately, there is little research concerning vowel elision. In this study, I will analyze the group of WFV for BP, composed of [ɐ], [ɪ] and [ʊ] vowels and contexts favoring elision. I therefore intend to gather data for the purpose of analysing language as CAS.
Even though there are articles and discussion about BP stressed vowels and elevation of final-word vowels, there are few studies in the area of vowel elision, especially for final-word vowels (DUBIELA, 2016). That happens because these sounds are extremely variable, due to their fragility facing linguistic changes and perturbation. Therefore, this work is justified by the need to expand research focused on word- final vowels in BP, more specifically for elision of such phones.
The scientific sensitization for this study arose, first, through a Final Project as requisite for undergraduate course in Letters by the Federal University of Paraná. There, WFV relative duration and variables coexisting together were analyzed. The production experiment consisted in two narratives read by 8 female speakers, born in Curitiba. After some discussion within the Phonemic Study Group and professors from Acoustic Phonetic area, I intend to enlarge research about WFV and, more specifically, about reasons for elision.
Recent studies have been approaching events, such as elision and vocalic harmony, as frames of different influences coexisting together (SILVA, LESSMANN; in press). Such explorations are likely paving the way for future research in the area of vowel elision for Brazilian Portuguese, and therefore can be considered timely and merit attention. Considering that, I intend to find scope for situating this research within the context of dynamic studies.
In this context, the guiding question will be: what are the most important linguistic traits to characterize word-final unstressed vowel sounds and how do they interact to further elision.
ALVES, Ubiratã Kickhöfel. A aquisição das seqüências finais de obstruintes do inglês (L2) por falantes do sul do Brasil : análise via teoria da otimidade. 2008. 337 f. Tese (Doutorado em Letras) - Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, 2008.
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DIAS, Eva Christina Orzechowski; SEARA, Izabel Christine. Redução e apagamento de vogais átonas finais na fala de crianças e adultos de Florianópolis: uma análise acústica. Letrônica, Porto Alegre, v. 6, n. 1, p. 71-93, jan./jun., 2013
DUBIELA, M. R. A. Vogal Frontal Átona Final Produzida por Falantes de Curitiba: Subsídios para uma Abordagem Dinâmica dos Sons da Fala. 2016. 214 f. Dissertação (Mestrado em Linguística). Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba. 2016.
LANSING, S. Complex adaptative systems. In Annual Review of Anthropology, 32: 183-204, 2003.
MENESES, Francisco de Oliveira. As vogais desvozeadas no Português Brasileiro : investigação acústico-articulatória. 2012. Dissertação de Mestrado - Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Instituto de Estudos da Linguagem.
NUNES, Vanessa Gonzaga. O apagamento de vogais átonas: o falar florianopolitano. In:
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At the same time, there is also evidence introducing some deviant points of view. One objection that has been raised regarding retro walking concerns its possible dangers (MR. PARANOID, 2001). However, research financed by The Institute of Good Sight (TIGS) shows that there are more incidents of stumble and fall between people that developed the habit of backward walking. Indeed, numbers from 2001 until 2004 are 55,37% higher in population walking backwards than those from the same period walking normally. However, major research in the area of Historical Retro-Walking says that this practise is in accordance to the Hebrew thinking of “Past Teaches Living”, term idealized by Moses (1371 b.C). According to that, looking to what is behind you actually helps to understand future. In this context, backward walking is usually encouraged. Other authors, like Naysayer Johnson (2003), counter-argue these ideas with the concept of Time, in which people would not have spare time to dispense in the practise of retro-walking. So, the benefits for such practice would be useless. This goes against research conducted in the 90s that interviewed New York inhabitants. Thus, interviewed people affirmed that they lose between 2-5 minutes per day with retro-walking and that this loosed time does not affect other routine activities.