Revisiting the kit-split in Coloured South African English
This paper seeks to provide a detailed sociophonetic analysis of kit vowel variation in Coloured South African English (CSAfE). 40 Coloured speakers (20 male; 20 female) from middle-class and working-class backgrounds were analysed using methods of automatic vowel measurement. 2,253 tokens of kit were isolated into phonological environments which condition the split: before and after velar consonants /k, g/, before /ŋ/, before palato-alveolar consonants /ʧ, ʃ, ʤ, ʒ/, after /h/, and word initially. Working-class CSAfE speakers displayed a wider split in the set: they used a higher and fronter variant in all conditioning environments, approximating [ɪ], while tokens in the unconditioned environments were produced in the region of [ə]. Middle-class speakers displayed a definite split, conditioned by the same environments, but with a smaller distance between the two values. The binary split maintains its vitality in this variety of South African English.
Keywords: South African English, kit vowel, social class, Coloured, kit split, social change
Published online: 01 December 2017
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