English and the many languages of India have been in contact for very long periods of time with cross-language borrowings and effect on IE pronunciation. Though, we are not sure how much pronunciation of Indian English varies, this is still an evolving dialect that has room for additional research. Some characteristics of India English dialect include its non- rhotic features. The /r/ is silent in words such as mother, from, birthdays; and may be understood as a frictionless or as an alveolar tap (Sailaja, 2002). Another example that we found typical for IE speakers in Abhishek’s IE dialect were the differences of “th” sounds. The voiceless /θ/ is frequently replaced by an unaspirated voiceless dental stop /t̪/ or voiced dental stop /d̪/. Indian languages have aspirated and unaspirated plosives, so those fricatives written as “th” are often aspirated (Sailaja, 2002). This feature was produce by our participant Abhishek over 50 times during the course of his interview. Chart A
Another great feature in IE there is the notorious pronunciation of the letters “t” and “d”. To the American ears the sound a bit “swallowed” or have a slight glottal sound to them. In IE these sounds are not marked dental or alveolar like a native speaker of English would pronounce them. However, Indians who speak English as a second langue mark these phonemes retro flex plosive, either voiced (d) and voiceless (t). This future brings us to our next observation. An interesting phenomena that occurred during the interview was a decreasein the omission of [ɖ] and [ʈ]. In his first few responses, Abhishek would often omit the retroflex sounds [ɖ] and [ʈ]. In words like actually, amount, compared; there was no production of the letters “t” and “d”. However, as Abhishek continued his interview the omissions continued to decrease. By question 7 the omission sounds [ɖ] and [ʈ] had disappeared and he began to use the phonemes [ɖ] and [ʈ] in his responses. Chart B
The last observation that was made during our interview was the misuse of adverbs. In his responses, Abhishek would not add the [ly] phoneme to words like complete and different. In one example he also omitted the adverb like when trying to explain his curiosity about Vatican City. “I would go to Vatican City because it’s the smallest in the world and I really wonder what it’s going to be.”(minute 3:10) This rare occurrence although happens a few times during the conversation with Abhishek, it was surprising that he made this mistake with such an advance knowledge in English.
Indian English (IE) is a unique type of dialect because of difference in first languages. Though India’s official language is Hindi, there are several regional languages such as Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Kannada, Maithili, and Telugu amongst others.1 Even though there are many Indian languages there is a standard Indian English pronunciation (SIEP) still used by many non-native English speaking Indians. 2 Below are the charts and graphs used with the information gathered from Abhishek’s interview.
Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vfhljf42qc
/aɪm frʊm indʌ/
/noʊ aɪv kʌm tu u.s foʊr dʌ frst taɪm/
/aɪ araɪv tu mənθ agoʊ/
/abəʊt inɖʌ its laɪk kampliʈɖifrɪnt kʌnʈri frʌm hiɝ kampliʈ ɖifrɪnt pipl end aɪ t:nk ɪt nebɝ snoʊs ɪn inɖʌ end ɪts rɪli: hɑt kʌmpeɪr frʌm hi:ɝ soʊ aɪ fil rili koʊlɖ end dʒiʌgrʌfikʌli if ju kʌmpeɪr tu da pipl laɪk da ʌmaʊn ʌf ɪn dahend iz rili smʌl bikʌz dɪɝ laɪk ʌ bɪliʌn pipl end dʌ end ɪtz hæf ʌf dʌ unaɪd sʈeɪts ɝ les den dæt/
While watching both videos of interviews, it was easy to see that both speakers use different pronunciation while saying certain sounds. Before this essay delves into specifics about the interviews, it will briefly discuss basic information about the two people who were interviewed. In the first interview, the subject is a male, early to mid-twenties, who was born in the Bronx and raised in Manhattan. In the second interview, the subject is also a male, mid to late-twenties, who is from Haiti.
While going through the IPA transcriptions, it was evident that both men have pronunciations of certain sounds that are not the ‘standard’ of American English. For example, in the Bronx/Manhattan interview, the subject replaced /ð/ with /d/, frequently. To give a few examples, he uses /də/ instead of “the”, /dæts/ instead of “that’s,” and /dəm/ for “them.” In the Haitian interview, the subject does something similar, saying /də/ instead of “the”—but he only says this twice within the interview. Interestingly, the Bronx/Manhattan interview uses this different type of pronunciation way more then in the Haitian interview. To go further, within the Haitian interview, the subject uses /wɹ/ instead of /ɹ/. For example, he says /vewɹi/ instead of “very,” /dɪskwɹaɪb/ instead of “describe,” etc. He uses this twenty times throughout his interview. During the Bronx/Manhattan interview, the subject did not use this pronunciation. Lastly, during the Bronx/Manhattan interview, the subject used use of /f/ instead of /ð/ twice. For example he says /boʊf/ instead of “both” and /wɪf/ instead of “with.” In the Haitian interview, the subject did not use this pronunciation.
Within both interviews, the subjects had one type of pronunciation in common—replacing /ð/ with /d/ but the other pronunciations, which deviated from the American “standard” were unique to the speaker. This makes sense because both speakers are from different places, so their speech differences reflects this.
1=use of /d/ instead of /ð/
2=use of /f/ instead of /θ/
3=use of /wɹ/ instead of /ɹ/
4=use of /f/ instead of /ð/
Interview and Phonetic Analysis
Sociolinguistics relates to how society affects the way language is used, and also how language usage affects the society. Our group project relates to the idea of how location, the people that one is surrounded with, and education levels effects English as a Second Language Learners. We started by going to Passaic County Community College, which has a large group of ESL learners in Passaic County. The majority of the students in this school are Dominicans. The informant that our group first chose was a female native Dominican speaker that began learning English at PCCC a semester ago in this report we will call her Informant A. She has been in America for two and a half years coming from the Dominican Republic. She is a university graduate from Dominican Republic. Our second informant we chose was also an ESL learner that was from Dominican Republic, who has been in America for three years. In this report, we will call her Informant B. Informant B was not a university graduate.
Our group began our interview by asking the ESL learners questions. We asked them questions that invoked them to express their thoughts. The questions included:
What was the most frightening time of your life?
Did that experience ever happen again?
How did you overcome your experience?
What would you do differently if it happened again?
Did you have any other frightening experiences?
Before the interview the informants asked us questions to help them understand what they are going to be saying. For example, the informants asked us to give examples of frightening moments we told them accidents, getting lost, and getting robbed. The informants took about a couple minutes trying to think of something to explain to us in the interview.
The location of both ESL learners is Paterson,NJ. In Paterson, NJ there is a large Dominican community. There are specific areas in Paterson which majority of the residents are Dominicans. This gives ESL learners a slower learning progress. Everywhere these Dominican native speakers go they use their native language to express themselves even when they go to stores like Walgreens or CVS. It delays their learning progression because they do not apply their new language to their daily lives. Not only does their location limit these informants to learning English at a slower pace, but also it limits them to standard American English. They learn the African American English vernacular as well as the Dominican English. For example, instead of saying ‘going to go’ they say ‘gonna,’ and for the Dominican English they say ‘is’ instead of ‘it is.’ The location of both informants gives them a negative understanding of how they should speak.
The people that the informants are surrounded with during their daily lives affects how they learn English. Informant A does not have any family or friends in the United States. She basically had to figure out America on her own with her husband and infants. Informant B has many family and friends that have lived in the United States for their entire lives. Even though informant A does not have any friends or family, she strives to use as much vocabulary as possible. Informant B uses little vocabulary and seems to use simple words when explaining her most frightening experience. This has a lot to do with her being by a lot of American English speakers in her daily life as opposed to informant A who uses English only when speaking to her professors and at school.
Lastly, the women’s education level has a lot to do with how they expressed themselves in the interview. Informant A is a university graduate while informant b is a high school graduate. As a listener, one can realize that both interviews were different. Informant A used more vocabulary and talked about her experiences freely while Informant B used redundant vocabulary words. One can also assume that because informant A is a university graduate she is more into her English studies while informant B is in school to get her ESL certification. In ESL there are always two groups those who really are into their studies, who are most likely graduates of universities from all over the world, and those who believe an ESL certification will bring them closer to their goals. Informant A and informant B both show major differences in their speech and this is probably because of their level of education.
When phonetically transcribing the video we found ourselves struggling with the translations because we would want to transcribe what Informant A produced in Standard American English. We had to push everything we knew about SAE out of our minds and pretend like we didn’t know how to “correctly” pronounce certain words. We came across many characteristics that made her stand out as a non-native speaker. For starters, she paused quite a lot in her speech. She used this tactic in order to formulate her next thought or to process the question that had been asked. Leah works at a pizzeria and many of the men she works with are from Mexico. They have told her the reason they pause a lot when having a conversation or use “uh” and “um” fillers are because they formulate what they are going to say in their minds before they produce it. They don’t want to immediately start talking because they don’t want to sound stupid.
Another characteristic that makes Informant A stand out as a nonnative speaker is words that SAE speakers would end with a voiced /z/ she ends with a voiceless /s/; an example would be in her pronunciation of the words ‘because’ and ‘was.’ When producing the sound that most SAE speakers pronounce either/ks/or /kz/, she would leave out the /k/and just pronounce the /s/. For example, she pronounced the word experience as [ɛʰspɪɚːiːɛ̃ːns]. The use of voiced consonants in her vernacular are nonexistent. When producing words that end in the suffix -ing, Informant A would leave out the –g. For example, she pronounced shaking as shakin, and swearing as swearin.
A major characteristic that stands out is how she uses /sh/ in place of /ch/. For example, she pronounced children as [ʃɪːldrɛ̃ːn]. This makes her really stand out when being compared to SAE. Another characteristic was the shift in some of her vowels. In many words that SAE speakers would pronounce with the low front lax unrounded vowel /æ/, she pronounces with the mid front lax unrounded vowel/ɛ/. For example, when SAE speakers would say /ænd/ and /frɛnd/ she says /ɛnd/ and /frænd/. The final characteristic that stood out to us was Informant A’s prominent use of the vowel/ɛ/ when an SAE speaker would use the vowel /ʌ/. For example, she stated, “[aɪː] [kɛ̃ːm] [frʌ̃ːm] [doːmɪ̃ːnɪːkɛ̃ːn riːpʌːblɪk].” An SAE speaker would say “[aɪː] [keɪ̃ːm] [frʌ̃ːm] [ðʌː] [doːmɪ̃ːnɪːkɪ̃ːn riːpʌːblɪk].
It seems as though Informant B, due to the fact that she is practicing her English speaking with mainly her Dominican peers, she has picked up on language patterns from her native Dominican Spanish. For example, most of her phonetic differences with SAE were that she kept dropping the /t/ and /d/ sounds in her words, which is something that is done by Dominicans in the Spanish language. Informant A, on the other hand, did not drop any /t/ or /d/ sounds. In fact, one of her major issues was that she used /t/ or /ʃ/ instead of /tʃ/, which implies that she is either aware of the need to start using that sound or she is at least attempting to practice it in a college environment. Informant B, however, would not need to since most of her Dominican peers would most likely not even notice, let alone correct her. Informant B displayed a lack of the /ɾ/ glottal flap in her speech, which is very common for a nonnative English speaker since it is not a sound that exists in spanish. It was also noticeable the way she ended of lot of words with just ‘n’ instead of either pronouncing the ‘t,’ ‘d,’ ‘m,’ or ‘ŋ.’ Lastly, unlike Informant A who had trouble between the uses of /θ/ and /ð/, Informant B only went as far as occasionally using /ð/ but mostly sticking with a /d/ sound for any ‘th’ words. It seems as though the more an informant practices English with other nonnative speakers that are used to speaking with only sounds from their native language, the harder it becomes for that speaker to practice or even remember to include those sounds that only exist in their second language.
In conclusion, although the speakers are both from the same country and have been living in America for almost the same amount of years, they show major differences in how they project their speech. Informant A and informant B decode sounds, but we can notice from the charts that Informant A has much more mistakes than informant B. This can be because of many reasons. The first being who the learners are surrounded with. Informant B has the advantage of having many friends and family members who speak English and Spanish. Informant A has no one to really differentiate the sounds, so she uses the sounds of the Dominican language. She replaces the /z/ with an /s/, lacks the /r/, and has much more difficulty with the vowels than Informant B. This shows that dialects change when a person is surrounded with people that speak the same language that they are trying to learn, but vocabulary and communication changes when a person lives in a certain city and the level of education that one carries.