When people move from their native dialect area to another dialect area, changes frequently occur in their speech as they acquire some features of a second dialect. Why are some native dialect (D1) phonetic and phonological features retained while others change towards the second dialect (D2) features? Previous research, which will be critically examined in this paper, has argued that feature changes are due to sociolinguistic factors, as well as phonetic and phonological factors. After summarising Evans and Iverson (2007), I will discuss salience as a factor in the acquisition of D2 phonetic and phonological features. Secondly, I will discuss the influence of identity on second dialect acquisition (SDA). These points will be discussed with reference to the findings of Evans and Iverson (2007), Nycz (2013) and Sankoff (2004).
2. Previous research: Evans and Iverson (2007)
Evans and Iverson (2007) investigated vowel change in production and perception in a group of young adults who left their native dialect area in the north of England in order to attend universities in different parts of the U.K. They conducted three experiments; experiment I tested vowel production and experiments II and III tested perception of northern and Standard Southern British English (SSBE) speech. The main finding of the study was that 18 out of 23 participants were judged to have changed their accents and sounded more southern after time spent at university. However, it is important to note that although acoustic analyses showed marked changes in the production of bud, cud, could and bath, the overall changes in accent rating were very small. The vowels in words such as bud and cud became centralised, moving away from northern [ʊ] and towards SSBE [ʌ]. Surprisingly, the vowel [ʊ] in could, which is usually pronounced with the same vowel in northern and southern varieties of English, was also observed to undergo centralisation in almost all of the subjects. Evans and Iverson (2007) attribute this unexpected change to hypercorrection or a change in the underlying [ʊ] category of the northern speakers, which would mean that they would produce centralised vowels in all of the words containing [ʊ] in their D1. With regard to the bath vowel ([ɑː] in SSBE and [a] in northern English), the acoustic analyses suggest that the subjects retained [a] but made small adjustments to “soften” their production (Evans and Iverson, 2007:3820). In short, the phonological variables, [ʌ]~[ʊ], changed but the phonetic variables, [ɑː]~[a], did not significantly change. This is striking because phonological variables are generally harder to acquire than phonetic ones. Phonetic changes take place across the board, in all contexts, but phonological changes are more complex and generally require rules. However, it should be noted that the northern speakers have not acquired a native-like SSBE [ʌ]~[ʊ] split because they changed their production of could when it is, in fact,...