Intra-ethnic variation in the English spoken by Iraqi Arabs in London and Glasgow: a sociophonetic study

Al-Asiri, Ebtehal Ali (2023) Intra-ethnic variation in the English spoken by Iraqi Arabs in London and Glasgow: a sociophonetic study. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Over the last two decades, the UK has received a massive influx of immigrants who are diverse not only in terms of their ethnic and religious backgrounds but also in their migration routes and experience (Vertovec,2007). Such differences play a key role in the socio-economic and demographic stratification within and across ethnic communities, and by implication, the speakers’ sociolinguistic behaviour. However, little attention has been given to the possible impact of migration routes and experience on sociophonetic variations within and across ethnic communities. Most of the related research on ethnic communities has been largely concentrated on South-Asian and Afro Caribbean communities that came to the UK through similar channels of migration. Additionally, little work on ethnic accents of English has directly examined ethnic regional varieties of English (though cf.Wong and Hall-Lew, 2014; Wormald, 2016).

The Iraqi community in the UK exhibits waves of migration, with different migration routes to different locations. This thesis explores the sociophonetic variation within forcibly displaced (refugees) and professional Iraqi- Arab migrants in London and Glasgow, who despite commonalities, are socioeconomically stratified. It focuses on the patterns of variation in the production of English laterals and positive voice onset time (VOT) of stops, which are produced differently in London and Glaswegian English as well as Iraqi Arabic (Al-Ani, 1970; Stuart-Smith, 2004; Wells, 1982b). Using a variationist sociolinguistic framework, 44 first generation Iraqi Arab speakers, aged 40-70 and stratified by migration experience, dialect and gender, were recorded reading target words in a carrier phrase and completed an acculturation questionnaire. English positive VOT durations and laterals’ degree of clearness/darkness were measured and analysed acoustically. The effects of linguistic, macro- and micro-social factors on English stops’ VOT duration and F2-F1 Hz of the laterals were statistically analysed.

Iraqi English variation was conditioned by regional dialect and migration experience. These factors also interact, and with gender, to affect VOT and lateral production patterns. Moreover, Iraqi speakers who reported integration attitudes and behaviour within and outwith the community showed monolingual-like production patterns, highlighting the importance of considering speakers’ identification and involvement with both their ethnic and national communities to better understand and interpret their sociolinguistic behaviour.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Supervisor's Name: Stuart-Smith, Professor Jane and Smith, Professor Jennifer
Date of Award: 2023
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2023-83659
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2023 10:48
Last Modified: 19 Jun 2023 10:52
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83659

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