The Retroflexion of Postvocalic /r/ in Austin

Location: Austin, Texas, USA.

Language Variety: Texas English
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Variable: post-vocalic R

Variants: 3

r-0 no retroflexion, a glide

r-1 slight retroflexion

r-2 heavy retroflexion

 

Method of Data Collection: Impressionistic Observation, Rapid and Anonymous Survey

No. of participants: 40

No. of tokens: 132

 

Factors Examined: “name of the store and the sex, race, occupation, and estimated age of the respondent”

 

Statistical Design: reports descriptive statistics; frequency of r-0, r-1, r-2 across social categories. Sample wording: “Of 132 responses,69.2 percent were r-2, 26.7 percent were r-1, and only 4 percent were r-0.” (266).

 

Findings: “postvocalic /r/ is mostly of the Midland type and almost always shows some degree of retroflexion, with heavy retroflexion appearing most frequently in word final position. Postvocalic /r/ is socially and occupationally, though only slightly stylistically stratified, slight retroflexion being the prestige model of the older people. Races with low prestige often shift in careful speech to the high retroflexion of whites, revealing a pattern counter to that one socially effected. Males use more heavy retroflexion than do females, who accounted for all the uses of a glide instead of a retroflexed /r/. A trend toward almost exclusive use of the heavily retroflexed /r/ in the not-too-distant future appears most likely.”

 

Citation: Harris, Maverick Marvin. 1969. The Retroflexion of Postvocalic /r/ in Austin. American Speech 44(4). 263. doi:10.2307/454682.

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