Dynamics of Phonological Variation in Texas English




Story, Caroline

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This acoustic phonetic study examines the stable and deviant phonological features of contemporary Texas accents. The range of Southern American English (SAE) speech patterns are observed in apparent time to identify possible cross-generational and cross-regional dynamics and the diffusion of potential variants among specific Texas populations. The frames of contrast identified are from a total of 8 representative participants – divided by age and urban or rural residence. In this study, a set of 8 vowels were placed in lexical sets with identical environments for sentence readings and an elicited-word game. The participants’ samples of citation speech styles were compiled through recorded interviews for subsequent acoustic measurement. Through comparative analyses using spectrographic displays, I find distinctive contrasts in vowel qualities among the younger generations in contrast to their older regional counterparts. Additionally, the analysis demonstrates a de-localizing shift from SAE through vowel shifts propagated by the younger population. The variabilities in population patterns are further subject to t-testing to determine their statistical significance. This method of evaluating hypothesized language change through synchronic variation expands on a related body of work and provides the foundation for future diachronic research on sound shifts in American English.



accent, acoustic phonetics, sociolinguistics, Southern American English, Honors College


Story, C. J. (2021). Dynamics of phonological variation in Texas English (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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