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Incomplete neutralization in African American English: The case of final consonant voicing

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 January 2019

Charlie Farrington
Affiliation:
University of Oregon

Abstract

In many varieties of African American English (AAE), glottal stop replacement and deletion of word-final /t/ and /d/ results in consonant neutralization, while the underlying voicing distinction may be maintained by other cues, such as vowel duration. Here, I examine the relationship between vowel duration, final glottal stop replacement, and deletion of word-final /t, d/ to determine whether the phonological contrast of consonant voicing is maintained through duration of the preceding vowel. Data come from conversational interviews of AAE speakers in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington, DC. Results indicate that glottalization and deletion of word-final /t/ and /d/ are widespread across the speakers in the analysis. Additionally, the duration of vowels is significantly longer before underlying /d/ than /t/ for consonant neutralized contexts, thus showing that duration, normally a secondary cue to final voicing, may be becoming a primary cue in AAE.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019 

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Footnotes

I thank Valerie Fridland at the University of Nevada, Reno and Walt Wolfram at North Carolina State University for allowing me access to their data for this research. The data used for this study were collected with support from National Science Foundation grants BCS-1358724, BCS-1129778, and BCS-0001725. I'd also like to thank Tyler Kendall, Mary Kohn, Volya Kapatsinski, Lisa Redford, Jason McLarty, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper.

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