Variation and change in Toronto heritage Cantonese
An analysis of two monophthongs across two generations
This paper presents the first sociophonetic study of Cantonese vowels using sociolinguistic interview data from the Heritage Language Variation and Change in Toronto Corpus. It focuses on four allophones [iː], [ɪk/ɪŋ], [uː], and [ʊk/ʊŋ] of two contrastive vowels /iː/ and /uː/ across two generations of speakers. The F1 and F2 of 30 vowel tokens were analyzed for these four allophones from each of 20 speakers (N = 600 vowel tokens). Results show inter-generational maintenance of allophonic conditioning for /iː/ and /uː/ as well as an interaction between generation and sex such that second-generation female speakers have the most retracted variants of [ɪk/ɪŋ] and the most fronted variants of [iː]. This paper will discuss three possible explanations based on internal motivation, phonetic assimilation, and phonological influence. This will illustrate the importance of multiple comparisons (including inter-generational, cross-linguistic, and cross-community) in the relatively new field of heritage language phonology research.
Keywords: heritage languages, bilingualism, sociophonetics, contact linguistics, Cantonese/Chinese language–Canada
Published online: 06 April 2017
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