Putting individuals back in contact

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Researchers have commented that linguistic complexity and the level of social integration can constrain adults’ ability to acquire phonological changes (Chambers 1992; Kerswill 1996; Evans 2004). This preliminary study explores the extent to which first generation Barbadian immigrants acquire Ipswich English (IpsE) or retain their own phonology (Island Barbadian English, or IBE). Initial results indicate that Barbadians employ four different strategies for individual vowels: (1) maintenance, (2) partial accommodation, (3) full accommodation, and (4) phonetic divergence. One outcome is the emergence among Barbadian females of an interdialect form with the creation of homophones not present in IBE or IpsE. Finally, the paper raises the possibility of new dialect formation in subsequent generations.


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