The inconspicuous substratum
Indigenous Australian languages and the phonetics of stop contrasts in English on Croker Island
Descriptions of Australian Aboriginal English list the neutralisation of the Standard English contrast between so-called voiced and voiceless stops as one characteristic feature. This paper reports on the results of an acoustic analysis of data collected in a production task by monolingual speakers of Standard Australian English in Sydney, of Aboriginal English on Croker Island, Northern Territory, and bilingual speakers of Iwaidja/Aboriginal English and Kunwinjku/Aboriginal English on Croker Island. The results show that average values for Voice Onset Time, the main correlate of the “stop voicing contrast” in English, and Closure Duration collected from Aboriginal speakers of English do not significantly differ from that of speakers of Standard Australian English, irrespective of language background. This result proves that the stop contrast is not neutralised by these Aboriginal speakers of English. However, it can be shown that phonetic voicing manifesting itself in Voice Termination Time is a prevalent and characteristic feature of Aboriginal English on Croker Island. This feature aligns Aboriginal English on Croker Island with local Aboriginal languages and differentiates it from Standard Australian English.
Keywords: Australian Aboriginal English, VOT, closure duration, lenition, Iwaidja, Kunwinjku
Published online: 09 June 2020
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