Fadia, Safiyyah (2018) The influence of Gujarati on the VOT of English stops. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis is an acoustic study of three generations of women from the Gujarati-English community in Batley, West Yorkshire (United Kingdom). The literature pertaining to Gujarati is very limited, hence this thesis aims to solve some unanswered queries regarding our understanding of the influence of Gujarati on English stop productions. Research was gathered from three generations of women to judge whether there is an influence of Gujarati on English speech. The first generation was born in India and migrated to the UK during their childhood, whereas the second and third generation were born in the UK.

In order to assess this influence, the acoustic attribute of voice onset time (VOT) was studied for all stops /p b t d k g/ at word-initial level. Participants were recorded reading out pre-arranged flashcards, generating eight hundred and forty-four tokens of data, all of which were later analysed in Praat. A further objective of this research was to examine whether there are variances of VOT at different positions of an utterance.

Previous studies in the acoustic literature have studied VOT interference in bilinguals of various languages, which have yielded mixed results, including L1 influence, L2 influence, as well as no interference whatsoever. The primary results demonstrated that there is an influence of Gujarati (the L1) on English speech (the L2) in the first generation, which reduces for the second and third generation. Furthermore, a second significant finding was that there appears to be a high usage of Gujarati-like negative VOT at utterance-initial position for all three generations.

Several explanations are proposed to explain the two aforementioned findings. The main argument put forth is that the participants’ VOT values mirrored the values of their dominant language. Secondly, there is perhaps a sociolinguistic change occurring in the Batley community in which negative VOT has ethnic connotations and is being used by the British-born generations as a marker of identity.

Safiyah Fadia FINAL THESIS.PDF - Accepted Version
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