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Title: The homogenization of ethnic differences in Singapore English? A consonantal production study
Authors: Kalaivanan, Kastoori
Sumartono, Firqin
Tan, Ying Ying
Keywords: Humanities::Linguistics
Issue Date: 2020
Source: Kalaivanan, K., Sumartono, F., & Tan, Y. Y. (2020). The homogenization of ethnic differences in Singapore English? A consonantal production study. Language and Speech, [Early Access}. doi:10.1177/0023830920925510
Project: MOE2015-T2-1-120 
Journal: Language and Speech 
Abstract: Past research on Singapore English (SgE) has shown that there are specific segmental and prosodic patterns that are unique to the three major ethnic groups, Chinese, Malay, and Indian in Singapore. These features have been highlighted as the "stereotypical" ethnic markers of SgE speakers, assuming substrate influence from the speakers' "ethnic" languages (Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil). However, recent research suggests that Singaporeans are becoming increasingly English dominant and has challenged the position of the ethnic languages as true "mother tongues" of Singaporeans. Hence, this study seeks to question if such "stereotypical" ethnic features exist, and if so, the extent to which a less dominant ethnic language would affect the phonology of speakers' English. This study looks specifically at the production of consonants /f/, /θ/, /t/, /v/, and /w/ as salient segmental features in SgE. Participants' phonetic behavior of /θ/, which was produced similarly across the three ethnic groups, disputed substrate influence. Tamil speakers were the most disparate, particularly with the /v/-/w/ contrast production. However, these deviations were often sporadic phonetic changes, which scarcely reflect robust speech patterns in the community. As a result, consonantal production in SgE is found to be largely independent of substrate influence and relatively uniform across the three ethnicities. The homogeneity observed in this study sheds light on bilinguals' acquisition of sounds, and it also provides phonological evidence toward the understanding of the evolutionary process of postcolonial Englishes.
ISSN: 0023-8309
DOI: 10.1177/0023830920925510
Rights: © 2020 The Author(s). All rights reserved.
Fulltext Permission: none
Fulltext Availability: No Fulltext
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