Contact and Innovation in New Englishes: Ethnic Neutrality in Namibian face and goat

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Abstract

This study examines acoustic data from Namibian English to gain insights into how substrates may impact the formation of New Englishes. To this end, the study singles out the Namibian English vowels face and goat, following the assumption that they could be realized as either diphthongs or monophthongs depending on which Namibian language the speaker has as a native language. Based on a sample of face and goat vowels elicited together with their equivalents in several Namibian languages, the study shows that influence from Namibian native languages in face-goat realizations is more likely among the members of the demographically dominant ethnolinguistic group, as well as among men in general. Another significant finding is that, irrespective of the vowel systems of their native languages, specific ethnolinguistic groups tend to converge with the monophthongizing face-goat variants encountered in the demographically dominant ethnolinguistic group. The study’s general conclusion is that New Englishes can develop ethnically neutral varieties whose emergence seems to follow the general principles of new-dialect formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-200
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of English Linguistics
Volume50
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Keywords

  • ethnicity
  • language contact
  • Namibia
  • New Englishes
  • sociophonetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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