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An acoustic description of the vowels of young urban Gotenburg Swedish

Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet)
Författare Johan Gross
Therese Leinonen
Publicerad i International Conference on Language Variation in Europe 9 (ICLAVE 9), Malaga, 06 June-09 June 2017
Publiceringsår 2017
Publicerad vid Institutionen för filosofi, lingvistik och vetenskapsteori
Språk en
Länkar www.iclave9.uma.site/abstracts/ICLa...
Ämnesord Vowels, Swedish, urban, youth, youth language, Gothenburg
Ämneskategorier Språkstudier, Jämförande språkvetenskap och lingvistik, Nordiska språk, Tvåspråkighet, Fonetik, Lingvistik


At the heart of variationist sociolinguistics is the assumption of inherent variability (Labov 1972), i.e. that variation in language is something that should be seen as an inherent property and therefore should be taken into account when modeling a theory of language. This has usually been approached by examining how single variables are treated by different groups. In this paper, we will try different ways to take the whole vowel system into consideration instead of a single variable when modeling the variation in Gothenburg youth language. This is especially important when it comes to vowels, as they are often involved in chain shifts and as the shape of the system and the relative distribution of the vowels to each other has been shown to carry sociolinguistic information (Adank et al. 2007). We analyze data from 52 students aged 16-19 at two schools in Gothenburg: one in the city center and one in the suburbs. The schools were chosen to reflect demographic factors characterizing both areas. While most students in the suburbs have parents who were born outside Sweden, the distribution of students with Swedish, foreign or mixed background is more even in the central school. The data used for acoustic analysis come from map-task recordings, where each speaker produced on average ten tokens of each of nine long vowels. The vowels were analyzed acoustically applying PCA to Bark-filtered spectra. Statistical analyses were carried out with the acoustic measures as dependent variables and vowel, school, gender, and parents place of birth as independent variables. School and parents place of birth turned out to be significant factors for vowel pronunciation. The two close front vowels /i:/ and /y:/ are pronounced more fronted in the suburb school and more centralized in inner city school. At the inner city school, speakers with foreign-born parents have a more fronted pronunciation than speakers with both parents born in Sweden. A variable that has previously been shown to separate adolescents with foreign-born parents from those with Swedish-born parents in Gothenburg is the opening of /ɛ:/ to [æ:] with the result that the allophonic rule /ɛ:/ > [æ:] _/r/ is lost (Gross et al. 2016). Our results are in line with this, and since we have data from the whole system we can see that /ø:/, which has a similar allophonic rule, shows a similar distribution. While the youth with foreign-born parents show a tendency to adjust to changes observed in the greater central-Swedish dialect area, the speakers with Swedish-born parents have more regional features in their vowel system.

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