Variation study of the Received Pronunciation (RP) vowel phonemes /e/, /ɜ:/ and /ə/, among Ewe Speakers of English in Ghana

  • This research investigated variation in the pronunciations of three RP vowels phonemes /e/, /ɜ:/ and /ə/, among Ewe speakers of English in Ghana. It focused on variation at both individual and societal levels, investigating how social relations within these structures influenced the use of the three vowels among the speakers. In this study, social structures were seen as a system where individual members depended on one another and were linked through multiple ties. The distribution of the vowels was in respect with the social variables: age, gender and education, including dialect and social network. The study used a corpus of word-list recorded in a face-to-face interview from 96 participants selected through stratification and networking across two dialect regions: Aŋlɔ and Eveme. Using both aural and acoustic analyses, coupled with ANOVA and t-test, the study has shown that the three RP vowels exist in Ghana Eve English as independent phonemes. Each of them however has allophonic variants; /e/ has variants [e̠], [ɪ] and [ɜ:]; /ɜ:/ has [eː] and [ɜ:], while /ə/ has [ə], [ɪ], [o] and [ʌ] as its variants. The choice of the variants of /ɜ:/ and /e/ have been found to depend on speaker age, gender, and social network. But the geographical location of the speaker will largely determine how these vowels are spoken. Phonological contexts as well as speaker idiosyncrasy are also likely to condition the choice of some of these variants, however, their effects seem less important as determinant of the differences observed than those of the social factors. It is evident that age, gender and class differentiations that have been widely reported cannot be universal, they can vary from one society to another. Also though social structures as well as social relations in a speech community can play significant roles in the individual’s linguistic repertoire, the attitude of the speaker and the phonological contexts of a segment can have a huge impact on the use of that variable.

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Author:Lena Awoonor-Aziaku
Place of publication:Frankfurt am Main
Referee:Henning Reetz, Reiner Voßen
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Year of Completion:2018
Year of first Publication:2018
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Granting Institution:Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität
Date of final exam:2018/11/01
Release Date:2018/11/22
Page Number:xiii, 202
Institutes:Sprach- und Kulturwissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:4 Sprache / 40 Sprache / 400 Sprache
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht