An acoustic investigation of vowel variation in Gitksan




Borland-Walker, Kyra Ann

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The research question for this thesis is: How does vowel quality vary across Gitksan speakers, and what sociolinguistic factors may be influencing this variation? Answering this question requires both that I show what the variation is, and why it may be that way; I have approached these questions by conducting a study in two parts. First, I conducted a demographic survey and ethnographically-informed qualitative interview with nine Gitksan speakers. Second, I performed an acoustic analysis of vowel variation across these same speakers. The acoustic results lead me to conclude that the low and front vowels show the most variation between speakers. My findings allowed me to add to our understanding of individual variation across speakers and communities. Although further investigation is needed to come to a conclusion about the generalizability of these results, the overarching contribution of my work is to add phonetic detail to previous descriptions of variation between speakers within the Interior Tsimshianic dialect continuum.



Gitksan, Phonetics, Sociolinguistics, Ethnography, Acoustics, Linguistics, Tsimshian