A foundational sample of El Paso English
Hamilton-Brehm, Anne Marie
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This dissertation describes the sampling method and results of analysis of the El Paso English Survery, a survey of lexical and phonetic features of forth European-American El Pasoans who came of age during World War II. Three-hour interviews were conducted yielding over twenty minutes of conversational speech (the basis for phonetic analysis) and three-hundred lexical features. The informants are upper-middle-class, ten rural and thirty urban, with equal numbers of men and woment in each group. Analysis involved Kruskall-Wallis tests for correlation of linguistic variants with the social variables: sex, rurality, parental origin and occupation. Results show variation both between individuals and within individual speech, but indicate features general to the speech of the sample as a whole and features correlated with social variants. Correlation of a large number of linguistic variants with parental origin demonstratesthe influence of parents on developing speech habits. Evidence from the ElPaso English Sample challenges the notion of merger of the vowels in caught and cot, suggesting simple unrounding of the vowel in caught. Variation in the sample is considered within the framework of the Founder Priciple advanced by Salikoko Mufwene (2001).