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Poor Paul: L Vocalisation and the Process of Syllable-Coda Weakening

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Christina Laurer

L Vocalisation ( milk [miuk]) originated in London a century ago and contributes to the linguistic phenomenon of «Dialect Levelling». This study investigates L Vocalisation in the speech of the middle classes and reveals its widespread acceptance. The social factors Age and Gender are significant: young male adults are in the lead. L Vocalisation prevails in the speech of people in the South of England with regional links to urban areas. Back vowels encourage this process, whilst front vowels still hinder it. Thus, bulb is more likely to be pronounced as [bAub] than silk as [siuk]. Comparably, R Dropping began in the Early Modern English period, and has led to non-rhotic varieties of English. Since both /r/ and /l/ are weak consonants, their progressive weakening in the coda position is only to be expected.
Contents: Research project: L Vocalisation – The phonetic basis of L Vocalisation – Instability of liquids – Aspects of RP and non-RP accents – Estuary English – Dialect levelling & dialect contact – Descriptive and statistical analysis – The theory of Social Embedding & L Vocalisation – The battle of sexes & L Vocalisation.