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Variation, stance and style: Word-final

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One of the most cited features of the supposed migrant “ethnolect” in Australian English is the pronunciation of word-final -er. This article presents data from sociolinguistic interviews that support the view that there is a pronunciation difference between Anglo and non-Anglo speakers in Sydney, and that this difference is most pronounced in Greek and, to a lesser extent, Lebanese speakers. The variant the Greek and Lebanese speakers tend to use more than the Anglo speakers is backed and lengthened, and commonly used in words with final High Rising Tone (HRT). There is some evidence that Greeks are leading a change to a more backed variant. I show that length, backing, and HRT make up a style of speaking that I call “new (er)”. This style is indexical of being Greek for some, but more basically creates a stance of authoritative connection. These findings are significant for understanding the spread of new linguistic features, and how the meanings of some linguistic variables contribute to linguistic change.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-01-01

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