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Academic Paper

Title: Apparent-time evolution of /l/ in one African American community
Author: Janneke van Hofwegen
Institution: North Carolina State University
Linguistic Field: Phonetics; Sociolinguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: In the wake of numerous analyses of vowels in African American English (AAE), this study examines acoustically the phonetic production of a consonant-the word-initial lateral /l/-across several generations of speakers from a long-standing African American community in central North Carolina. The results of the study show that /l/ is darker in younger AAE speakers than in older ones, independent of phonetic context. Comparisons with ex-slave recordings suggest that a light variant of /l/ may be a substrate feature of AAE that has changed in recent decades. Additional comparisons with regional European Americans suggest that the darkening may be due to convergence with majority American English dialects.


This article appears IN Language Variation and Change Vol. 22, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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