Acoustic and sociolinguistic analysis of new sibilants in the speech of young Polish women Cover Image
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Acoustic and sociolinguistic analysis of new sibilants in the speech of young Polish women

Author(s): Bartłomiej Czaplicki, Marzena Żygis, Daniel Pape, Luis M.T. Jesus
Subject(s): Language studies, Language and Literature Studies, Theoretical Linguistics, Applied Linguistics
Published by: Dom Wydawniczy ELIPSA
Keywords: new sibilants; speech of young Polish women

Summary/Abstract: The Polish system of sibilants is currently undergoing changes in the speech of young women. The innovation involves alveolo-palatals and can be characterised as a change in progress in its initial stage. The change has recently come to the attention of many Poles. The new variants of sibilants connote childishness and immaturity and are heavily stigmatised among users of the standard variants. We present the results of an acoustic study of the new system of sibilants, in which the contrast [s : ɕ : ʂ] and [͡ts : ͡tɕ : ͡tʂ] has been replaced by [s : sʲ : ʂ] and [͡ts : ͡tsʲ : ͡tʂ]. We have analysed sibilants / s : ɕ : ʂ / and / ͡ts : ͡tɕ : ͡tʂ / pronounced by 16 speakers and divided them into two equal groups: speakers showing the standard realisations and speakers showing the new realizations of alveolo-palatals (i.e. [sʲ], [͡tsʲ]). We have investigated the centres of gravity of the sibilants. The results of linear mixed models reveal statistically significant differences between the standard and the new variants of sibilants and lead us to the conclusion that the alveolo-palatal sibilants are currently undergoing changes in their acoustic realisation. In order to explain the social restriction of the change, we refer to the existence of an iconic association between acoustic energy concentration in higher frequency regions and youth or childishness. The change may be seen as a trait of an emerging feminine accent of Polish. We also consider two other explanations for the change: contrast optimisation in the sibilant system and a speech disorder.

  • Issue Year: 2016
  • Issue No: 07
  • Page Range: 38-53
  • Page Count: 16
  • Language: Polish