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Linguistic change in intonation: The use of high rising terminals in New Zealand English

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 November 2008

David Britain
Affiliation:
Victoria University of Wellington

Abstract

This article reports sociolinguistic research on linguistic change in an intonation feature of New Zealand English, namely, the use of high rising terminal contours (HRTs) in declarative clauses. Recorded interviews from 75 inhabitants of Porirua, a small city north of Wellington, were analyzed for the use of HRTs. The speaker sample was subdivided according to years of age (20–29, 40–49, 70–79), sex, ethnicity (Maori and Pakeha), and class (working and middle). The results show that linguistic change is in progress, the use of HRTs being favored by young Maori and by young Pakeha women. The results are explained in terms of the function of HRTs as positive politeness markers. The usefulness of the term “linguistic variable” in the analysis of intonational change and discourse features is assessed.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1992

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