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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.

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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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