Linguistics and English Language

Language variation and change

Josh Clothier (University of Melbourne), "Aspects of Lebanese Australian ethnic identity and Australian English sociophonetic variability"

Abstract: Australian society is increasingly ethnically diverse; however, little is known about the Englishes of those with one of the 300+ minority ethnic Australian backgrounds. Further, sociophonetic research conducted on “ethnolectal” variability in Australian Englishes has been done within a framework which categorises ethnicity based primarily on the macro-sociological category of ethnic heritage. With this in mind, my PhD research focuses on the speech of Lebanese Australians, who comprise one of the largest minority ethnic groups in Australia.  I also apply a method that quantifies ethnic identity in gradient terms using a questionnaire that interrogates eight dimensions of ethnic identity (based on Hoffman & Walker, 2010; Phinney & Ong, 2007). In this talk, I describe the patterning of three phonetic variables with respect to variable ethnic identity in a group of 30 native speakers of Australian English with Lebanese heritage. The phonetic variables are: vowel duration, voice onset time, and /l/ quality. For each of these variables, I use acoustic phonetic analyses to demonstrate the different ways speakers deploy these variables to index Lebanese Australian ethnic identity: vowel duration varies as a function of ethnic identity in monosyllables; voice onset time varies as a function of ethnic identity in interaction with speaker gender; and /l/ quality is not differentiated by ethnic heritage or identity. These findings add to expanding understandings of Australian Englishes as more heterogeneous than previously thought, and contribute to the study of ethnolectal variability in corpus sociophonetics complemented by rich data on speaker ethnic identity.

Contact details

Victoria Dickson

Josef Fruehwald

May 09 2018 -

Language variation and change

2018-05-09: Aspects of Lebanese Australian ethnic identity and Australian English sociophonetic variability (Josh Clothier)

Room 1.20, Dugald Stewart Building, 3 Charles Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AD