Title page for ETD etd-04142004-115456

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Mentz, Rachel Rose
Author's Email Address rrmentz@hotmail.com
URN etd-04142004-115456
Title "Ya Know Frenchy, You Talk a Broken Language.": An Analysis of Syllable-Coda Phonetic Realizations in Creole African American Vernacular English
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department French Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Sylvie Dubois Committee Chair
Caroline Nash Committee Member
Hugh Buckingham Committee Member
Michael Hegarty Committee Member
  • creole
  • sociolinguistics
Date of Defense 2004-04-13
Availability unrestricted
Creole African American Vernacular English or CAAVE is a variety of English spoken by African Americans of French ancestry who live primarily in the French Triangle of Louisiana. Dubois and Horvath (2003b) have previously published on glide absence in CAAVE and have suggested that CAAVE is a unique dialect of English. They attribute CAAVE’s glide absence to the contact of Creole African Americans with diverse groups of English speakers and not to language interference from French.

This research further pursues these hypotheses by studying the phonological realization of word final syllable-codas for six old male speakers of CAAVE. The reduction of word final consonant clusters and the deletion of word final single consonants will allow us to compare CAAVE with other dialects of English and to find further support for the assertion that CAAVE is a distinct variety of English.

From this analysis, theories for the formation of the CAAVE dialect will be explored resulting in the general conclusion that CAAVE’s unique properties of word final coda reduction are likely attributable to the presence of similar features in an older variety of English spoken by African Americans who were first brought to Louisiana as slaves after the Louisiana Purchase. The eventual merging of this group with the existing Francophone Louisiana-born black population resulted in the formation of Creole African American communities who further came into contact with other English-speaking groups of diverse origins to form CAAVE.

The claim by Dubois and Horvath (2003c) that older Creole African Americans and Cajuns from the same geographical area speak the same unique dialect of English will also be discussed through the comparison of Dubois and Horvath’s preliminary evidence from Cajun Vernacular English with data collected for CAAVE. This analysis finds support for the argument that among old male speakers, CAAVE and Cajun Vernacular English are in fact the same dialect of English, although race remains as a social distinction separating the two groups.

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