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Acoustic and Sociolinguistic Aspects of Lenition in Liverpool English

Author(s): Giovanna Marotta | Marlen Barth

Journal: Studi Linguistici e Filologici Online
ISSN 1724-5230

Volume: 3;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 377;
Date: 2005;
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Keywords: phonetics | lenition | english

The paper concerns the phonetic analysis of the lenition process occurring in the variety of English spoken in Liverpool, known as Scouse. The acoustic study, based on a corpus of spontaneous speech produced by six speakers, allowed an accurate distinction of the different allophones produced. A new transcription for the lenited allophones of the voiced alveolar stop is proposed, with reference to the slit fricative already in use forthe voiceless counterpart. Some sociolinguistic aspects of the phonological process under investigation are also taken into account, in particular, the relation between gender and lenition is dealt with. In the male subjects the percentage of lenition is found higher for the phonemes for which the process is well established and partly stigmatized; the females, on the contrary, seem to lead in the diffusion of lenition to the phonemes for which the process is still limited and not already stigmatized. Lenition seems hence to be spreading to formerly not affected stops. Finally, we try to find out in our data a possible correlation between the lenition of stops and the typical Scouse intonation; the correlation does exist, but it seems to be one-way: a speaker who has the typical Scouse intonation shows a certain amount of lenited stops in his speech, but the occurrence of lenited segments does not implicate the presence of the Scouse intonation.
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