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Apparent-time evolution of /l/ in one African American community

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 December 2010

Janneke van Hofwegen
Affiliation:
North Carolina State University

Abstract

In the wake of numerous analyses of vowels in African American English (AAE), this study examines acoustically the phonetic production of a consonant—the word-initial lateral /l/—across several generations of speakers from a long-standing African American community in central North Carolina. The results of the study show that /l/ is darker in younger AAE speakers than in older ones, independent of phonetic context. Comparisons with ex-slave recordings suggest that a light variant of /l/ may be a substrate feature of AAE that has changed in recent decades. Additional comparisons with regional European Americans suggest that the darkening may be due to convergence with majority American English dialects.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

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