A sociophonetic study of Aboriginal English

This project looks at speech production and perception by Aboriginal people in Warrnambool (and surrounds) and now moving to Albury-Wodonga and Mildura (and surrounds). Dr. Debbie Loakes has previously carried out work on regional variation in Australian English spoken by non-Aboriginal Australians. The aim of that work was to investigate sound change and regional variation in Victoria, and now as part of her work in determining how Australians speak and process speech, Debbie is now including Aboriginal groups, starting in Western Victoria.

One of the major findings of Debbie’s earlier work is that Australian English listeners perceive speech somewhat differently depending on their regional background. She is particularly interested in including Aboriginal speakers of English in the study because there has been relatively little work done on the phonetics of L1 Aboriginal English, and equally, little is known about speech perception in this variety. Her work also includes an exploration of social factors regarding speech: that is, what motivates people to sound a particular way. The project will also compare how Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people behave linguistically, and how each group conceptualises language and community.

Chief Investigator: Dr Debbie Loakes (COEDL postdoctoral fellow), working with Assoc. Professor Janet Fletcher.

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