chapter  22
15 Pages

Variation across Englishes: Phonology

ByDavid Deterding

The spread of English around the world can be described in terms of four ‘diaspora’ (Kachru et al. 2006): the first was to Scotland, Wales and Ireland; the second was to the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa; the third was during the colonial era to places such as India, Singapore, Nigeria and the Caribbean; and the most recent has been to the rest of the world, such as Brazil, Japan, China and throughout continental Europe. The pronunciation that is found in each of the places in the second diaspora can to a

certain extent be predicted on the basis of two factors: when the settlers left Britain; and where they came from. Therefore, for example, most speakers in the USA have a rhotic accent (so [r] is pronounced wherever ‘r’ occurs in the spelling, including in words such as four and cart) because the original settlers left England at a time when rhoticity was the norm throughout most of the country, and furthermore, many of the early immigrants came from the west of England, Scotland and Ireland, which by and large have rhotic accents. In contrast, migration to Australia and New Zealand took place later, mostly in the nineteenth century, by which time the standard pronunciation in England was nonrhotic (Mugglestone 2003: 87), and furthermore the bulk of the settlers were from the south-east of England, especially London, where rhoticity is not generally found. We may note that the indigenous languages in the countries of the second diaspora

had little impact on the pronunciation of English that evolved in these places, and the most salient permanent influences from the original local languages were on placenames and also terms used for fauna and flora (Schneider 2007). The only exceptions in this respect are the English of South Africa, which shows substantial influences both from the Afrikaans spoken by the settlers of Dutch descent and also from the indigenous African languages such as Xhosa and Zulu, and New Zealand English, which is, to a certain extent, influenced by Maori (Bauer and Warren 2004: 581). In contrast, for varieties of English from the third diaspora, in places that mostly

shook off their colonial status during the second half of the twentieth century, there generally are quite substantial influences from the indigenous languages spoken in each

place. As a result, there are huge differences between the Englishes of these countries, varieties that are often described as belonging to the outer circle (Kachru 2005: 14). Nevertheless, despite such large differences between them, some patterns seem to recur in the various outer circle Englishes. For example: the dental fricatives [θ, ð] are often missing, which is hardly surprising given that they are fairly rare sounds in the languages of the world and also because many speakers find them hard to produce; and it is furthermore common to find full vowels in function words such as that and of and in the first syllable of words such as concern. This chapter will discuss in some detail the pronunciation of three outer circle Eng-

lishes, those of Singapore, India and Nigeria, and the analysis will consider the features that make each of these varieties unique as well as those that are shared between them. It will then look at the extent to which the shared features are also found in other outer circle Englishes, and finally it will consider implications for intelligibility.