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Phonological adaptation in the speech of Jamaicans in the London area

Wells, John Christopher; (1971) Phonological adaptation in the speech of Jamaicans in the London area. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This is a study of the pronunciation of thirty-six young adults who were born in Jamaica and. later came to live in the London area. It explores to what extent they have modified their pronunciation to fit in with their new surroundings. In Part One a brief description of the social background and of the phonology of Jamaican Creole and Received Pronunciation are followed by a discussion of phonological adaptation, which is seen as the rule-governed modification of a speaker's competence. Hjyperadaptation (hypercorrection)occurs when the environment:in which a rule is to operate is imprecisely specified. In Part Two the method of investigation is described. From each informant a battery of 190 selected words were elicited by questionnaire in the course of a tape-recorded interview. The pronunciation of each such keyword was analysed and transcribed phonetically. Each respondent's score was calculated for each of fifteen phonetic/phonological variables. A high score corresponded to a pronunciation relatively similar to that of an Englishman, a low score to that of a speaker of broad Jamaican Creole. The respondents were classified by sex, occupation, age on arrival in England, length of time in England, and parish of origin. The correlations between scores and these classifications were then investigated statistically. A high score was found to be strongly associated with non-manual occupation and, less strongly, with Eastern rather than Western parishes of Jamaica. Also, unexpectedly, those who had been here less than ten years tended to score higher than those who had been here longer; but this factor, like age on arrival and sex, had relatively little effect. Three appendices contain, respectively, transcriptions of connected speech recorded in Jamaica and in London, a discussion of phonological theory and the distinctive features underlying it, and statistical calculations.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Phonological adaptation in the speech of Jamaicans in the London area
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by EThOS.
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1572351
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