Finding one’s own vowel space

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This paper compares the vowel system of five New Zealand Niuean children to that of speakers of New Zealand English (NZE), via an acoustic analysis. The Niuean children’s vowel systems show a vowel inventory, triangular vowel space, and front vowel raising characteristic of New Zealand English. However, the analysis also found differences. In the monophthongs, the Niuean speakers retain the qualitative and quantitative distinction between /%/ and /a:/, whereas NZE retains only a quantitative distinction. Diphthongal differences are found in the degree and direction of movement, as well as the monophthongisation of /ei/ and /ou/. Such differences may be markers of NZ Niuean or a broader pan-Pasifika English.


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