Skip to main content

An acoustic analysis of the vowels of Hawai‘i English

  • M. Joelle Kirtley (a1), James Grama (a2), Katie Drager (a3) and Sean Simpson (a4)

This paper provides an acoustic phonetic description of Hawai‘i English vowels. The data comprise wordlist tokens produced by twenty-three speakers (twelve males and eleven females) and spontaneous speech tokens produced by ten of those speakers. Analysis of these vowel tokens shows that while there are similarities between Hawai‘i English and other dialects, the particular combination of vowel realizations in Hawai‘i English is unique to this dialect. Additionally, there are characteristics of the Hawai‘i English vowel system that are not found in other English dialects. These findings suggest that Hawai‘i English is a unique regional variety that warrants further description.

Hide All
Adank Patti, Roel Smits & Hout Roeland van. 2004. A comparison of vowel normalization procedures for language variation research. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 116 (5), 30993107.
Avis Walter S. 1972. The phonemic segments of an Edmonton idiolect. In Davis Lawrence M. (ed.), Studies in linguistics in honor of Raven I. McDavid, Jr., 239250. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press.
Baranowski Maciej. 2007. Phonological variation and change in the dialect of Charleston, South Carolina (Publication of the American Dialect Society 92). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Bigham Douglas S. 2010. Correlation of the low-back vowel merger and TRAP-retraction. University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics 15 (2), 2131.
Chambers J. K. 1973. Canadian raising. Canadian Journal of Linguistics 18, 113135.
Clarke Sandra, Elms Ford & Youssef Amani. 1995. The third dialect of English: Some Canadian evidence. Language Variation and Change 7, 209228.
Clopper Cynthia G., Pisoni David B. & Jong Kenneth de. 2005. Acoustic characteristics of the vowel systems of six regional varieties of American English. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 118 (3), 16611676.
Cox Felicity. 1999. Vowel change in Australian English. Phonetica 56, 127.
Coye Dale F. 2009. Dialect boundaries in New Jersey. American Speech 84 (4), 414452.
Dinkin Aaron J. 2011. Weakening resistance: Progress toward the low back in New York State. Language Variation and Change 23, 315345.
Drager Katie. 2012. Pidgin and Hawaiʻi English: An overview. International Journal of Language, Translation, and Intercultural Communication 1 (1), 6173.
Eckert Penelope. 2008. Where do ethnolects stop? International Journal of Bilingualism 12, 2542.
Ferragne Emmanuel & Pellegrino François. 2010. Formant frequencies of vowels in 13 accents of the British Isles. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 40 (1), 134.
Fox Robert A. & Jacewicz Ewa. 2009. Cross-dialectal variation in formant dynamics of American English vowels. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 126 (5), 26032618.
Fridland Valerie. 2001. The social dimension of the Southern Vowel Shift: Gender, age and lass. Journal of Sociolinguistics 5 (2), 233253.
Gordon Matthew J. 2004. The West and Midwest: Phonology. In Kortmann Bernd, Schneider Edgar W., Burridge Kate, Mesthrie Rajend & Upton Clive (eds.), A handbook of varieties of English: A multimedia reference tool, vol. 1, 338350. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
Gordon Matthew J. 2006. Tracking the low back merger in Missouri. In Murray Thomas Edward & Simon Beth Lee (eds.), Language variation and change in the American Midland: A new look at ‘Heartland’ English. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins, 5768.
Hall-Lew Lauren. 2009. Ethnicity and phonetic variation in a San Francisco neighborhood. Ph.D. dissertation, Stanford University.
Harrington Jonathan, Cox Felicity & Evans Zoe. 1997. An acoustic phonetic study of broad, general, and cultivated Australian English vowels. Australian Journal of Linguistics 17 (2), 155184.
Harrington Jonathan, Kleber Felicitas & Reubold Ulrich. 2011. The contributions of the lips and the tongue to the diachronic fronting of high back vowels in Standard Southern British English. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 41 (2),137156.
Hay Jennifer, Drager Katie & Thomas Brynmor. 2013. Using nonsense words to investigate vowel merger. English Language and Linguistics 17 (2), 241269.
Hillenbrand James, Clark Michael & Nearey Terrance. 2000. Effects of consonant environment on vowel formant patterns. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 109, 748763.
Hinton Leanne, Moonwomon Birch, Bremmer Sue, Luthin Herb, Clay Mary Van, Lerner Jean & Corcoran Hazel. 1987. It's not just the valley girls: A study of California English. Proceedings of the Thirteenth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society 13 (BLS 13), 117128.
Irons Terry Lynn. 2007. On the status of the low back vowels in Kentucky English: More evidence of merger. Language Variation and Change 19, 137180.
Kennedy Robert & Grama James. 2012. Chain shifting and centralization in California vowels: An acoustic analysis. American Speech 87 (1), 3956.
Kent Noel J. 1993. Hawaii: Islands under the influence. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.
Kerswill Paul, Cheshire Jenny, Fox Sue & Torgensen Eivind. 2007. Linguistic innovators: The English of adolescents in London (Full Research Report ESRC End of Award Report, RES-000-23-0680). Swindon: ESRC.
Koops Christian. 2010. /u/-fronting is not monolithic: Two types of fronted /u/ in Houston Anglos. University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics 16 (2), 113122.
Labov William. 2001. Principles of linguistic change , vol. 2: Social factors. Oxford: Blackwell.
Labov William, Ash Sharon & Boberg Charles. 2006. Atlas of North American English. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
Maclagan Margaret, Watson Catherine I., Harlow Ray, King Jeanette & Keegan Peter. 2009. /u/ fronting and /t/ aspiration in Māori and New Zealand English. Language Variation and Change 21, 175192.
Olive Joseph, Greenwood Alice & Coleman John. 1993. Acoustics of American English speech: A dynamic approach. New York: Springer.
Reinecke John E. & Tokimasa Aiko. 1934. The English dialect of Hawaii. American Speech 4858.
Robert Sarah. 2004. The role of style and identity in the development of Hawaiian Creole. In Escure Geneviève & Schwegler Armin (eds.), Creoles, contact, and language change: Linguistic and social implications, 120. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Roeder Rebecca V. & Gardner Matt Hunt. 2013. The phonology of the Canadian Shift revisited: Thunder Bay & Cape Breton. University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics 19 (2), 161170.
Sakoda Kent & Siegel Jeff. 2008. Hawai‘i Creole: Phonology. In Burridge Kate & Kortmann Bernd (eds.), Varieties of English 3: The Pacific and Australasia, 210233. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
Sato Charlene. 1985. Linguistic inequality in Hawaii: The post-Creole dilemma. In Wolfson Nessa & Manes Joan (eds.), Language of inequality, 255272. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
Sato Charlene. 1993. Language change in a creole continuum: Decreolization? In Hyltenstam Kenneth & Viberg Ake (eds.), Progression and regression in language: Sociocultural, neuropsychological, and linguistic perspectives, 122143. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Siegel Jeff. 2000. Substrate influence in Hawai‘i Creole English. Language in Society 29 (2), 197236.
Stuart-Smith Jane. 2008. Scottish English: Phonology. In Kortmann Bernd & Upton Clive (eds.), Varieties of English 1: The British Isles, 4870. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
Stueber Ralph K. 1964. Hawai‘i: A case study in development education 1778–1960. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin.
Thomas Erik R. 2001. An acoustic analysis of vowel variation in New World English. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Torgersen Eivind, Kerswill Paul & Fox Susan. 2006. Ethnicity as a source of changes in the London vowel system. In Hinskens Frans (ed.), Language variation – European perspectives: Selected papers from The Third International Conference on Language Variation in Europe (ICLaVE3), Amsterdam, June 2005, 249263. Amsterdam & Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.
Ward Michael. 2003. Portland dialect study: The fronting of /o w, u, u w/ in Portland, Oregon. MA thesis, Portland State University.
Watson Catherine I. & Harrington Jonathan. 1999. Acoustic evidence for dynamic formant trajectories in Australian English vowels. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 106 (1), 458468.
Watson Catherine I., Maclagan Margaret & Harrington Jonathan. 2000. Acoustic evidence for vowel change in New Zealand English. Language Variation and Change 12, 5168.
Wells John C. 1982. Accents of English, vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of the International Phonetic Association
  • ISSN: 0025-1003
  • EISSN: 1475-3502
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-international-phonetic-association
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 20
Total number of PDF views: 139 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 322 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 22nd February 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.