The fronting of the back vowel /u/is an ongoing sound change in many varieties of English. While /u/-fronting is argued to be primarily phonetically constrained, many studies report the significant role of various social factors, including ethnicity. This article investigates the linguistic and social conditioning of /u/-fronting in Toronto English. A sociophonetic analysis of /u/, extracted from spontaneous speech data of second-generation Filipinos and age-matched Anglos, was conducted to determine whether Filipinos exhibit /u/-fronting and to what extent coarticulatory and social factors affect degree of fronting. Results of a multivariate analysis show that male and female Filipinos produce fronted realizations of /u/as often as their Anglo peers. However, Filipinos exhibit greater fronting than Anglos in coronal and palatal contexts, which may be explained by cross-language influence from Tagalog. Taken together, this study suggests that, although Filipinos join other Torontonians in /u/-fronting, they nonetheless exhibit finer-grained differences when phonetic conditioning is taken into account.

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