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Unravelling variation and change in the short vowel system of RP Anne Fabricius SCALPS Research Group Roskilde University Sociolinguistics Symposium 16.

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Presentation on theme: "Unravelling variation and change in the short vowel system of RP Anne Fabricius SCALPS Research Group Roskilde University Sociolinguistics Symposium 16."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Unravelling variation and change in the short vowel system of RP Anne Fabricius SCALPS Research Group Roskilde University Sociolinguistics Symposium 16 Limerick, Ireland 8 July 2006

3 Structure of the talk Introduction: the short vowel system of RP Research questions Methods of investigation Results Conclusions

4 Introduction The present short vowel system of RP and similar accents; a six-way contrast (Wells’ 1982 keywords) KITFOOT DRESSLOT TRAPSTRUT

5 Changes in RP in 20 th century (not in chronological order!) 1. TRAP lowers and retracts, DRESS and KIT follow 2. FOOT fronts and unrounds 3. What about STRUT? 4. Wells (1982: 291) reports approaching TRAP/STRUT merger ”bunk bulences”

6 Problems with STRUT (I) How far back was it in 1900? (cf. Daniel Jones’ vowel charts, 1909 and 1932)

7 Problems with STRUT (II) Gimson (1962, 1970:107) General RP form: centralized and slightly raised from cardinal 4 position Conservative RP further back, to unrounded and centralized cardinal 6

8 Problems with STRUT (III) The subsequent hunt for evidence of ’fronting’… Wells 1982 claims U-RP has a more conservative back form of STRUT (consistent with sociolinguistic understanding); mainstream varieties have more fronted qualities towards London (but see London project…) Bauer 1985 searched for fronting acoustically…but study was not conclusive (change complete?) (nasals Young, come, coming?)

9 London (Linguistic Innovators Project) Comparisons between older and younger residents in inner London (Hackney) and outer London (Havering) STRUT is backing and raising relative to TRAP, ending near /  :/ from a more fronted position

10 Charts from London (Torgersen, Kerswill, Fox and Cheshire 2006)

11 Hawkins and Midgley 2005 Results for STRUT: Mostly stable but youngest generation (born ) had ‘break group’ distribution with significantly more spread in formant values on the F1 dimension ( vowel height).

12 Research Questions in the present study What changes can be observed in the relative positions of TRAP and STRUT over the course of the 20th century? What methodology will demonstrate this most convincingly and, importantly, replicably?

13 Methods of the present study Acoustic analysis of interviews with four male ex-public school speakers (corpus ). Tokens of primary stressed lexical words in stop and fricative onset and coda syllables (’checked’ vowels) Data supplemented with four published sets of vowel formant data

14 Other vowel formant data 2 speakers from Deterding 1997 (MARSEC corpus, born 1909 (male h) and 1927(male c))- connected speech Harrington, Palethorpe and Watson 2000 (Queen’s Christmas messages 1950s, 60s, 80s) – connected speech Wells’ (1962) average data for 25 male speakers before 1945 – citation forms Hawkins and Midgley 2005, 20 speakers in 4 age cohorts –citation/frame ( , , , )

15 A Labovian methodology? A Phonetic methodology? Plots of 2 vowel formants (F1/F2) on two dimensions. Normalised for different vocal tract lengths Analysed either by Eyeballing clusters of vowels and describing changes in two dimensions OR Testing sets of values/averages with e.g. ANOVA for significances on one dimension at a time Replicability?

16 A third possibility Plots of normalised vowels using same algorithm (S-procedure, Watt and Fabricius 2002) Calculate the angle relative to horizontal of a line drawn from TRAP to STRUT Θ = arctan ((F1 trap-F1 strut)/(F2 trap-F2 strut)) Θ obtained in radians in Excel; convert with DEGREE function

17 Angle calculation example (see also handout )

18 Why use this method? It’s Replicable and comparable across different data sets providing uniformly normalised data is used But Relies on single points rather than clustered data (loses standard deviations) Provides information on two dimensions at once But Perhaps arbitrary which two vowels chosen as anchor points (compare LOT/STRUT; historical considerations?)

19 Let’s look at results See handout Data arranged according to Hawkins and Midgley’s age cohorts Independent data groups slotted in at same generations Trend in data: moving from large negative angles to large positive angles over generations from older to younger (plus some variation/break groups) Larger samples could be tested statistically

20 The three major patterns through the data ‘early triangular’: STRUT lower and further back than TRAP, large negative angle ‘quadrilateral’: STRUT behind TRAP, shallow negative or positive angle ‘ late triangular’: STRUT above TRAP towards mid central position (phonetically like schwa), large positive angle

21 Example ‘early triangular’ (speaker born 1909)

22 Example ‘quadrilateral’ (speaker born between )

23 Example II: ‘quadrilateral’ (speakers all born before 1945)

24 Example ‘late triangular’ (speaker born between )

25 Example from Cambridge interview data

26 Some audio examples Male born 1956 (41  ) TRAP (adapt F1:735, F2:1559) STRUT (suffocating F1:541, F2:1332) Male born 1980 (70  ) TRAP (jacket F1:654, F2:1485) STRUT (judgement F1:501, F2: 1312)

27 Conclusions Speakers born in the period up to the end of WW2 show the early triangular pattern or the quadrilateral pattern (majority). ‘Break group’-like variation begins in the generations born after WW2 (H+M 2 and 3), gradually moving towards a late triangular configuration found in those born in the 1960s and after. Cf later dispersal in H+M’s analysis ingroup 4

28 Thanks for your attention! Questions?


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