Backward transfer of Glaswegian English on Indian English and Hindi: a case of simultaneous bilingual and bidialectal contact and interaction in Indian immigrants in Glasgow

Shaktawat, Divyanshi (2023) Backward transfer of Glaswegian English on Indian English and Hindi: a case of simultaneous bilingual and bidialectal contact and interaction in Indian immigrants in Glasgow. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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In the wider context of Second Language Acquisition, much evidence has been found for phonological backward transfer across languages, but there are still various facets of it that remain unknown. This thesis investigates three such aspects: (1) the role of systemic similarity between linguistic varieties in affecting backward transfer, (2) differences between backward transfer across languages and backward transfer across dialects, and (3) the role of multiple sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic factors in affecting backward transfer. To this end, this study examined the first-generation bilingual adult Indian immigrant community in Glasgow ‘Glaswasians’ (n = 38), who were bilingual in Hindi and Indian English prior to arriving in Glasgow and are now in contact with the dominant host variety in Glasgow, Glaswegian English. In addition to Glaswasians, two control groups were recruited: ‘Glaswegians’ (n = 34), native speakers of Glaswegian English who reside in Glasgow, and ‘Indians’, (n = 31), native speakers of Indian English and Hindi, who reside in India and have never been in contact with Glaswegian English.

To investigate the first aspect, an XAB similarity judgement task was carried out to determine if in addition to typological similarity, Indian English is also perceptually more similar to Glaswegian English as compared to Hindi, and therefore more vulnerable to transfer from Glaswegian English. The two control groups participated in this task and the results did not indicate a pattern of consistent similarity between Indian English and Glaswegian English phones, as compared to Hindi phones.

To examine phonological backward transfer across languages versus dialects, the three speaker groups participated in a speech production task. Multiple phone categories were examined for various phonetic cues: (1) /l/ for F2-F1 difference, (2) GOOSE vowel for F1, F2, F3, (3) /t/ for Voice Onset Time (VOT), (4) Voiced stops /b d g/ for VOT, Voicing During Closure (VCD) and Relative Burst Intensity (RBI). The results, which were mixed, were interpreted with respect to Flege’s Speech Learning Model (1995b; Flege & Bohn, 2021) and its predictions of assimilation and dissimilation. Out of the three occasions of differences in the amount of transfer exhibited by Hindi and English, English underwent quantitatively more assimilation than Hindi on two occasions (VOT in /t/ and /d/), whereas Hindi underwent quantitatively more dissimilation than English on one occasion (F2-F1 difference in /l/).

Finally, to examine the role of sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic factors in affecting backward transfer, data was collected from Glaswasians. A questionnaire task was used to collect data on gender, age of entry and length of residence in Glasgow, language proficiency and dominance, contact and identity, perceived discrimination. Multiple psychometric tasks were used to collect data on language switching ability and inhibitory skills. The results indicated that most of these factors influenced backward transfer and had a general effect across phones and corresponding features. For instance, higher Age of Entry and Length of Residence in Glasgow, Indian Identity, Indian Contact and higher inhibition were generally associated with more native-like or exaggeratedly native like shifts, whereas higher Glaswegian Contact and Glaswegian Identity were related to shifts towards Glaswegian English. There were, however, exceptions to the general effects of these predictors, such as for the phone categories /t/ and /g/. This finding is discussed in relation to the salience of these categories in the respective native and host linguistic varieties.

The results of this study are discussed with reference to patterns of transfer and influence of factors found in previous research. Additionally, their implications about the nature of the adult bilingual-bidialectal system, its flexibility and the apparent lack of strong correspondence between perceptual similarity and backward transfer effects, are discussed. These findings also contribute to the knowledge on transfer effects across languages versus dialects and add to what was previously known about Indian English, Hindi and Glaswegian English. A model of backward transfer, the ‘Proximity Modulated Transfer Hypothesis’, is proposed to understand the manner of interaction between Glaswegian English and Hindi and Indian English in this situation of simultaneous bilingual and bidialectal interaction in relation to backward effects discovered across the various phones and corresponding features.

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: Cohen, Dr. Clara and Stuart-Smith, Professor Jane
Date of Award: 2023
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2023-84017
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2024 15:59
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2024 16:02
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.84017

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