The vowels of South African English
This thesis provides a comparative analysis of vowel quality in South African English (SAE) using the following data: firstly, the existing impressionistic literature on SAE and other relevant accents of English, the former of which is subject to a critical review; secondly, acoustic data from a similar range of accents, including new SAE data, collected and instrumentally analyzed specifically for the purposes of this research. These various data are used to position, on both a descriptive and theoretical level, the SAE vowel system. In addition, and in the service of providing a careful reconstruction of the linguistic history of this variety, it offers a three-stage koin´eization model which helps, in many respects, to illuminate the respective roles played by endogenous and exogenous factors in SAE’s development. More generally, the analysis is focussed on rendering explicit the extent to which the synchronic status and diachronic development of SAE more generally, and SAE vowel quality more particularly, provides support for a number of descriptive and theoretical frameworks, including those provided in Labov (1994), Torgersen and Kerswill (2004), Trudgill (2004) and Schneider (2003; 2007). With respect to these frameworks, and based on the results of the analysis, it proposes an extension to Schneider’s (2007) Dynamic Model, shows Trudgill’s (2004) model of new-dialect formation to be inadequate in accounting for some of the SAE data, provides evidence that SAE is a possibly imminent but ‘conservative’ member of Torgersen and Kerswill’s (2004) SECS-Shift and uses SAE data to question the applicability of the SECS-Shift to FOOT-Fronting. Furthermore, this thesis provides evidence that SAE has undergone an indexicallydriven arrestment of the Diphthong and Southern Shifts and a subsequent and related diffusion of GenSAE values at the expense of BrSAE ones. Similarly, it shows that SAE’s possible participation in the SECS-Shift constitutes an effective chain-shift reversal ‘from above’. It stresses that, in order to understand such phenomena, recourse needs to be made to a theory of indexicality that takes into account the unique sociohistorical development of SAE and its speakers. Lastly, the adoption of the three-stage koin´eization model mentioned above highlights the merits of considering both endogenous and exogenous factors in the historical reconstruction of new-dialect formation and, for research into SAE in particular, strengthens the case for further investigation into the possible effects of 19th-century Afrikaans/Dutch, Yiddish and north-of-English dialects on the formation of modern SAE.
- Humanities 
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