L1 Influence of Initial Stop Consonants in Malaysian English
L1 Influence on Initial Stop Consonants in Malaysian English As many postcolonial countries retain English for internal use following their independence, a 'new' English is formed with the influence of local varieties. Malaysian English is one of the Southeast Asian Englishes that has experienced long-term language contact and linguistic integration. Nevertheless, a lack of contribution in the phonological aspect of Southeast Asian Englishes is noticed. Thus, the present study aims to investigate the L1 influence on the English initial stop consonants produced by the three major ethnic groups in Malaysia and the extent of cross-linguistic influence. Voice onset time (VOT) and closure duration are investigated in four groups: Malay-English bilinguals (n=10), Mandarin-English bilinguals (n=10), Tamil-English bilinguals (n=10) and British monolinguals (n=9). The bilinguals' English results are compared with their L1s and British English. Findings show the data distribution of English initial stop consonants produced by the bilingual groups lie at an intermediate position between L1s and British English, indicating cross-linguistic influence. While all bilingual groups reflect weaker voicing contrast in the English initial stop production, Malay-English bilinguals and Tamil-English bilinguals show smaller data variability and greater resemblance to respective L1s whereas Mandarin-English bilinguals display greater data variability and greater resemblance to L2. A linear mixed effects model analysis confirms the findings. However, the contrast of closure duration between two voicing categories is observed in all bilingual groups except for the British monolinguals. Hence, this leads us to question the role and weight of VOT and closure duration as an acoustic cue or perceptual cue for voicing discrimination among the Malaysian English bilingual speakers.