A Study of Variation in the BATH Vowel among White Speakers of South African English in Five Cities
This paper is part of a larger project covering South African English dialectology via five cities (Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Kimberley, Johannesburg and Durban) and four ethnicities (Whites, Black, Coloured and Indian), using a single vowel to explore and exemplify regional and ethnic similarities and differences. For reasons of space only the White speakers are analysed in this paper. BATH was chosen as exemplar since it is known to vary in the White communities between an RP-oriented central to back variant, a fully back variant with weak lip rounding and a raised and rounded variant. BATH tokens arising from interviews with 50 speakers were subjected to acoustic analysis via PRAAT and statistical analysis via ANOVA. The results show a diversity of means per city and gender for Whites: in general females show means closer to the older prestige RP norm; while Kimberley the smallest city shows the broadest realisations of BATH (as superback and raised).