First Language and Sociolinguistic Influences on the Sound Patterns of Indian English
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The current dissertation is a systematic study of variation in the English spoken in multilingual and multicultural India. Three experiments were conducted to investigate the influence of two native languages (Hindi and Telugu) on English, which is spoken by almost all Indians as a second language. The first experiment indicated that Indian English (IE) is accented by the first language of its speakers, but high English proficiency and the degree of divergence between the sound patterns of the speaker's native language and his or her IE suggested that other factors might influence the preservation of a native language accent in IE. The second experiment controlled for language investigated the effect of region on IE, finding that listeners were able to distinguish speakers based on region even when they spoke the same native language. The regional variation in IE was more noticeable for native Telugu speakers than for native Hindi speakers. This difference was attributed to differences in the social and political power associated with these native languages: Hindi being the national language and the language of the capital city of India; Telugu, a regional language of Andhra Pradesh and spoken by many fewer people than Hindi. The third experiment was motivated by the idea that persistent effects of the speaker's native language might also be used to reflect a speaker's personal identity. Accordingly, the experiment investigated the effect of speaking about personal versus neutral topics on IE pronunciation. The results were that speakers' IE pronunciation was more like their native language when speakers discussed personal topics then when they discussed neutral topics. Overall, the results suggest that the pronunciation of IE is conditioned by social factors, meaning that it has entered the differentiation phase of Schneider's dynamic model of English evolution. This dissertation includes previously published co-authored material.