To better understand changes in the intonation patterns of speakers of African American Language and European American English over time, the current study compares the intonation patterns used during recent sociolinguistic interviews of 12 natives of Raleigh, North Carolina, with those used on archival recordings of 12 formerly enslaved African Americans and European American Confederate-era speakers. Both generations of speakers are balanced across sex and ethnicity. To interpret the intonation patterns, a modified version of the ToBI transcription of Mainstream American English was used, and an analysis of intonation in conversational speech at the level of intermediate phrase boundaries (L– and H–), as well as the type and relative frequency of two pitch accents (H* and L+H*), was conducted. Results indicate that for pitch accents there are persistent and subtle differences between these two ethnolects over time, with African American Language speakers of both generations producing more pitch accents per syllable than their European American English speaking counterparts, while also showing a preference for the L+H* pitch accent. Intermediate phrase boundaries show less differences across generations, highlighting the complex relationship for these two varieties with respect to intonation over time.
African American Language and European American English Intonation Variation Over Time in The American South
jason mclarty is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Oregon; much of his work focusing on prosodic production and perception differences between African American Language and European American English varieties. He helped design and implement the website Online Resources for African American Language (ORAAL), which houses the Corpus of Regional African American Language (CORRAL). ORAAL is designed to appeal to a general audience (such as K–12 students, families, and other nonlinguists) while also providing contextual and educational information about African American Language. In addition to this work, he also has examined language variation and change in Oregonian English. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason McLarty; African American Language and European American English Intonation Variation Over Time in The American South. American Speech 1 February 2018; 93 (1): 32–78. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-6904032
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