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LINGUIST List 20.3879

Thu Nov 12 2009

Diss: Phonetics/Socioling: Sharbawi: 'An Acoustic Investigation of...'

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        1.    Salbrina Sharbawi, An Acoustic Investigation of the Segmental Features of Educated Brunei English Speech

Message 1: An Acoustic Investigation of the Segmental Features of Educated Brunei English Speech
Date: 10-Nov-2009
From: Salbrina Sharbawi <salbrina.sharbawiubd.edu.bn>
Subject: An Acoustic Investigation of the Segmental Features of Educated Brunei English Speech
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Institution: Nanyang Technological University
Program: English Language and Literature
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2009

Author: Salbrina Sharbawi

Dissertation Title: An Acoustic Investigation of the Segmental Features of Educated Brunei English Speech

Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics
                            Sociolinguistics

Dissertation Director:
Christine Goh C.M
David Deterding

Dissertation Abstract:

There is a dearth of publications on the phonetics and phonology of Brunei
English (BrunE). To date, there have only been four published works
investigating the sounds of this English variety and out of the four, only
one incorporated the use of acoustic measurements.

The present study provides an in-depth instrumental investigation of the
segmental features of educated BrunE speech. Its objectives are three-fold:
first, it contributes to the literature on the phonetics of BrunE; second,
it aims to investigate the extent of the reliability of acoustic
measurements in describing a language variety; and third, it examines the
feasibility of describing an emerging English variety on its own terms
without reference to an inner circle variety such as British English (BrE).
Comparison is, however, made to Singapore English (SgE). This is because it
has been suggested that an English lingua franca with shared pronunciation
features is developing in the Southeast Asian region. As such, comparison
to SgE allows us to assess the relationship between these two English
varieties, and thereby place BrunE within the context of the Southeast
Asian Englishes.

After the literature review, methodology and description of data, the
experimental section of this dissertation is divided into three chapters:
rhoticity (Chapter Four), consonants (Chapter Five) and vowels (Chapter
Six). The chapter on consonants is further divided into four sections:
dental fricatives, final consonant clusters, L-vocalization and voice onset
time (VOT). The chapter on vowels is divided into monophthongs and the
diphthongs FACE and GOAT. The findings of the present study show that there
are several similarities in the pronunciation features between BrunE and
SgE. However, there are also some differences. Some of these
dissimilarities are attributed to the first languages of the subjects as
well as to the different stages in development of the two English varieties.

The study also finds that acoustic measurements are not always reliable in
describing some pronunciation features. They prove to be reliable in
investigating VOT and monophthongs but do not seem to work so well in the
investigation of rhoticity, dental fricatives, final consonant clusters and
L-vocalization. As for diphthongs, measurements help provide a reasonable
overview of the degree of diphthongal movement but they are less valuable
in describing the quality of individual tokens.

Another finding of this study is that describing an emerging English
variety on its own terms is possible, though having an inner circle variety
as a reference point can be beneficial particularly for values such as VOT
and the degree of diphthongal movement. In an attempt to avoid prescribing
to how a sound 'should' be pronounced, Wells' lexical keywords are used for
the vowels instead of phonetic symbols. As the lexical sets are too complex
for the description of BrunE vowels, a modified approach is adopted by
having a reduced number of lexical sets. However, problems are still
encountered in the analysis because these keywords work on the assumption
that the lexical sets are fixed, and they seem to be based entirely on the
pronunciation of an inner circle variety.



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