Chapter published in:Language Variation – European Perspectives VIII: Selected papers from the Tenth International Conference on Language Variation in Europe (ICLaVE 10), Leeuwarden, June 2019
Edited by Hans Van de Velde, Nanna Haug Hilton and Remco Knooihuizen
[Studies in Language Variation 25] 2021
► pp. 292–314
Ethnic variation in real time
Change in Australian English diphthongs
Ethnic and ethnolectal variation in migrant communities have received much attention, but the manifestation and longevity of this variation is not yet well understood. Capitalising on Barbara Horvath’s foundational study of social variation in Australian English, and a comparable, recent corpus of sociolinguistic interviews (Sydney Speaks 2010s), we present a real-time test of ethnic variation in the speech of approximately 170 Australians over a 40-year period. We examine the speech of Anglo-, Italian- and Chinese-Australians, focusing on five diphthongs considered to be characteristic of Australian English. Analyses of over 20,000 tokens reveal no wholesale differences among ethnic groups, but they do reveal some differences in the progression and social conditioning of changes over time, which we argue are best understood in relation to the social nature of the changes undergone.
Keywords: ethnolects, ethnic variation, diphthongs, Australian English, language change, gender, socio-economic status
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