A phonetic variationist study on Chilean speakers of English as a foreign language

Subiabre Ubilla, Paulina Beatriz (2015) A phonetic variationist study on Chilean speakers of English as a foreign language. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Variationist research in the Labovian paradigm has traditionally looked at the structured heterogeneity found in first language (L1) speech. More recently this quantitative methodology has been applied to speakers acquiring a second language (L2), usually in immigrant settings. This research has shown that alongside well documented L2 acquisition processes, sociolinguistic patterns are also found, just as in native speech. This dissertation examines the speech of native speakers of Spanish acquiring English in Chile, extending traditional quantitative methodology to L2 contexts, specifically to English as a foreign language (EFL) situations.

I examine the variation of four phonetic variables: voiceless alveolar fricative (ʃ), voiceless alveolar affricate (ʧ), and postvocalic (r), which range from stigmatised to prestigious in both Spanish and English; and voiced dental fricative (ð), which has been extensively documented in English, mainly constrained by linguistic factors. Through the analysis of the speech of eighteen university students, I seek to test, firstly, whether the patterns of variation characteristic of Chilean Spanish are transferred to English and secondly, whether the variation exhibited by native speakers of English is replicated in EFL contexts.

The results suggest that: (1) the expected transfer of patterns from Chilean Spanish to English does not occur for the variables (ʃ) and (ʧ), and (2) the patterns found in non- native speech in EFL contexts replicates the patterns found in native speakers of English for the variables voiced dental fricative (ð) and postvocalic (r). Amongst the social factors considered, the effect of social class is shown to contribute to the variation of postvocalic (r) and (ʃ), as years of instruction in English did to the variation of (ʃ); in relation to the contribution of internal factors, it is found that phonetic environment and position have an effect on the varying use of (ʃ) and (ð). As predicted for (ð), the effect of purely linguistic factors is confirmed. Thus this study demonstrates that the notion of structured heterogeneity can be extended to contexts of EFL, especially in relation to the effect of internal constraints.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Second language variation, sociolinguistics, quantitative analysis, EFL, phonetic variables, transfer of sociolinguistic patterns
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Supervisor's Name: Smith, Dr. Jennifer
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Paulina Beatriz Subiabre Ubilla
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-6363
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2015 10:35
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2015 08:49
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/6363

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