The fronting of the back vowel /u/ is an on-going 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 paper 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 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.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.