A sociophonetic description of Jordanian speakers of English living in Christchurch through different generations
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Linguistics
The current research supports the ongoing investigation into the role of the age of arrival in a foreign country as an important factor affecting not only immigrants’ linguistic production but also production of the next generation. Such an investigation is conducted by exploring the production of Jordanian speakers of English living in New Zealand, particularly in Christchurch. The structure of the sample employed in this study provides more understanding about how a language can be produced differently by speakers that share heritage languages, regional, ethnic and religious backgrounds and are considered immigrants. More precisely, the present study examines the Jordanian vowel set of English, /t/s, and /r/s produced by three groups (“Fathers”, “Younger children” and “Older children”) living in Christchurch. Results of the research reveal that the New Zealand English vowel system was noticeable not only among the “Older children” and “Younger children” but also their “Fathers”. Such a consequence shows that different vocalic features could be acquired regardless the speakers’ age of arrival. Regarding acquiring the phonetic consonantal features (such as tap, glottal stop and linking /r/), they are constrained with particular phonological environments which are inevitably difficult to be acquired in the age of adulthood. Glottal stop and tap as variants of /t/ and linking /r/ as a feature of non-rhotic English varieties are clearly realised in the production of the Jordanian participants. These variants are particularly favourable into specific phonological environments which cannot highly likely be acquired by speakers who immigrated in their adulthood age while they are fundamental with their next generation. In other words, realising /t/s as a glottal stop and tap and linking /r/ within the [V_#C], [V_#V] and [V_#V] environments respectively is only favourable in the production of “Younger children” and “Older children” while they are almost absent in the production of the “Fathers” group. This evidently supports that the age of arrival is a key factor affecting the production of speakers whose heritage language is not similar phonetically and phonologically to the dominant language.