•  
  •  
 

University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics

Abstract

This study investigates how community change is reflected in language, by examining the English of 28 Puerto Rican-identified native English speakers across two generations. Prosodic rhythm, which has been shown to differentiate Latino Englishes from other American English varieties including contemporary African American English, is measured here using the Pairwise Variability Index (Low, Grabe and Nolan 2000). Results indicate that New York Puerto Rican English speakers in East Harlem maintain syllable-timing (a substrate influence from Spanish) across-the-board, even when contact with African American English is evident at other levels of the grammar. PVI scores are higher for younger speakers (indicating more stress-timed speech) than for older speakers (indicating more syllable-timed speech) and younger speakers show a more even spread of PVI scores than older speakers do. Age differences appear to be linked to social factors like ethnic integration of housing, Spanish usage and social networks. Finally, results point to men showing more similar, syllable-timed speech, while women show more variation when it comes to speech rhythm. The results of this study shed light on how contact between members of different ethnoracial/linguistic groups who live in close proximity may produce dialect change, and also reveal the ways in which speakers negotiate their own linguistic identities as part of a community in transition.

Share

COinS
 
 

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.