Differences in the way voice onset time (VOT) is used across languages to maintain stop voicing contrasts have been well-documented, but less research has focused on VOT variation within voicing categories. For example, native English speakers are generally reported to produce word-initial voiced stops with short positive VOTs, but within category differences connected to self-reported gender and ethnicity have been reported in one preliminary study, with male speakers prevoicing more than female speakers and with African American speakers prevoicing more than Caucasian American speakers. For the current study, native speakers of English from Mississippi were recorded reading three repetitions of a pseudo-randomized list of words designed to investigate the connections between gender, ethnicity, and prevoicing of word-initial voiced stops. Participants self-identified their gender and ethnicity in an open-ended language background survey completed after recordings. Significant ethnicity, but not gender, differences were found, with African American speakers prevoicing voiced stops far more than their Caucasian American counterparts. Presumably, this difference is linked, not to ethnicity, but to dialect. These findings suggest that dialectal differences play a role in the VOT variation of word-initial voiced stops and that prevoicing may be a heretofore unidentified characteristic of African American English.
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January 31 2020
Sociophonetic voice onset time variation in Mississippi Englisha)
Special Collection: English in the Southern United States: Social Factors and Language Variation
Wendy Herd; Sociophonetic voice onset time variation in Mississippi English. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 January 2020; 147 (1): 596–605. https://doi.org/10.1121/10.0000545
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