School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

Adeline Charlton

Adeline Charlton

Doctoral Student in English Linguistics



  • Dr. SJ Hannahs
  • Professor Martha Young-Scholten


Opacity and learning in alternations of French nasal vowels: a stratal account.

Pre-vocalically, the nasal vowels of French show a four-way alternation segmentally schematised as follows: [V?V] ~ [V?NV] ~ [V?NV] ~ [VNV].

Mostly occurring across words as resyllabification phenomena, these alternations are also observed mono-morphemically, for example derivationally (bo? ~ b?n), inflectionally (vj?? ~ vj?n), dialectally (ane ~ ??ne), diachronically (??ne ~ ane), and acquisitionally (??edi ~ ??nedi ~ inedi).

The constant VV segmental context points to higher structures to explain these four variants and some supra-segmental accounts have successfully motivated similar alternations as the locus of particular domains. However, mismatches between number of prosodic domains and number of variants have pointed to limits in their explanatory adequacy.

This thesis therefore accounts for the phonology and learning of nasal vowel alternations with stratal OT, where alternations are handled by a specific stratum phonology, and defends several claims. Firstly, as a function of a particular level and a particular phonology, each of the four variants observed is accounted for, namely [V?V]PHRASE, [V?NV ~ V[+LO]NV]WORD, and [V[-LO]NV]STEM. Secondly, the two word-level variants [V?NV ~ V[+LO]NV] are specific to nasal vowel alternations, vs. oral vowel alternations single variant [V[+LO]CV]. Thirdly, this specificity reflects and sheds light on the transitional nature of the word as intermediate level between phrase and stem, i.e. where variants combine features of both phrase and stem levels. The main contributions of this research therefore lie in validating stratal OT hypotheses, refining nasal vowel alternation phonology and adding to the wider debate on variation and predictability in resyllabification phenomena in French.

Research Interests

Phonological Theory, Stratal OT, Prosodic hierarchy, Learning Biases, Vowels, Accent, Low literacy phonology, Attrition, Foreign Accent Syndrome.

Research Activities


  • Theoretical phonology reading group


  • SPE8028 Phon software (lab)
  • SEL1027 Syntax (seminar)
  • SEL1027 Phonetics and Phonology (seminar)


  • 2015 - mfm23 (Manchester) - Syllable well-formedness: Accounting for innovations in learning French vocalic nasality (Poster)
  • 2015 - PG Speaker Series (School of English, Newcastle): Learning new sounds at the edges: Innovations against opacity (Paper)
  • 2014 - AFLS (Canterbury) - French nasal vowels: Acquisition patterns and variation (Paper)
  • 2014 - PG Speaker Series (School of English, Newcastle) - Learning French pronunciation: the case of Nasal Vowels (Paper)
  • 2013 - New Sounds (Montreal) - The acquisition of L2 French nasal vowels: further evidence from PhonBank L1 data (Paper)
  • 2012 - SLP (York) - French nasal vowels: acquisition by advanced English Learners (Poster)


  • AHRC BGP Doctoral Award - 2012-15


  • Linguistic Association of Great Britain
  • Association of French Language Studies


  • 2014-15 - PG Tutor committee - Phonology Representative
  • 2014 (semester 2) - CRiLLS executive board - Postgraduate Representative
  • 2013-14 - Postgraduate Student Staff Committee - Chair
  • 2008-09 - Staff Student Committee - Course Representative (MA P/T Linguistics)

Academic Background

  • MA in Linguistics and Language Acquisition (Distinction) at Newcastle University
  • BA in American Literature (First Class Honours) at Orléans University (France)