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The Curious Absence of Aspiration in Indian English: The Role of Phonetics in Adaptation
Jahnavi Narkar
189-196 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


Indian varieties of English are known to lack aspiration, a surprising observation given that Indic languages which influence these Englishes have contrastive aspirates. This also holds for English loanwords in Indic languages. This paper investigates this reported lack of aspiration by analyzing speech samples from 95 speakers of Indian English, comparing them to samples from 6 speakers of British English. It shows that these two groups differ in their acoustic implementation of the laryngeal categories in terms of VOT and onset f0. Given these differences, this paper argues that English aspirated stops are categorically perceived as being unaspirated and are therefore adapted as such in Indic loanwords and in Indian English. More broadly, it shows that phonetics can play a role in adaptation and suggests that many cases where phonetics and phonology match in this process may also have an entirely phonetic explanation.

Published in

Proceedings of the 37th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by D. K. E. Reisinger and Marianne Huijsmans
Table of contents
Printed edition: $375.00