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Title: Dutch Coda (r) Variation and the Association between [ɻ] and Females
Authors: Hilton, Nanna H.
Rosseel, Laura
Smidt, Eva Manon
Coler, Matt
Issue Date: 18-May-2016
Conference: 'r-atics edition:5 location:Leeuwarden date:18-20 May 2016
Abstract: One of the most striking changes in progress in Dutch in recent decades has been the innovation and spread of variant [ɻ], the approximant bunched realisation of coda /r/. The sound change is led by female speakers (van Bezooijen 2005, Sebregts, 2014), and is presumably reaching completion in Western parts of the country. While [ɻ] has diffused to many peripheral areas of the Netherlands Koppers & van Bezooijen (2008) indicate that the sound change is only in initial stages in areas where speakers are proficient in a regional language, such as Frisian, alongside Dutch.
This study investigates the relationship between the social meaning of [ɻ] and its usage patterns within a speech community. An Implicit Association Task (IAT) is used to measure the strength of association between the binary social construct gender, here ‘male’ and ‘female’, and the two variants of the sociolinguistic variable (r): [ɾ] and [ɻ]. A reading task containing 26 instances of coda /r/ is given to informants after completion of the IAT, to map out the informants usage of /r/-variant. Our study thus seeks to understand whether speech innovations lose their association with female speakers who have been in the vanguard of the change as the sound change reaches near-completion within the speech community.
Our informants are 30 informants born and raised in Friesland, an area of the Netherlands where the sound change is believed to be on the rise, and 20 informants from areas in which the sound change to [ɻ] ought to be completed: urban areas in the North and West of the Netherlands.
Results from our production task show that, as predicted, the sound change is not complete in the Dutch of young speakers in Friesland, but is especially used by young female speakers in that area. In urban areas in the North and West [ɻ] is used more than 70% of the time in coda position, and there is no significant gender difference in usage.
The analyses of the IAT data (d-scores) indicate only a weak relationship between the strength of association of variant [ɻ] with ‘female’ and lower usage patterns of [ɻ] in the speech community (d-scores of 0.69 for Fryslân vs. -.003 for the North West). On the basis of our findings we discuss the process of indexical ordering of linguistic variants, and the relationship between language use, on the one hand, and the development of social meaning, on the other.
Koppers, J. & R. Van Bezooijen (2008): Maakt de Gooise r een kans in Friesland? Een evaluatieve
studie naar de waardering van de r onder meisjes. It Beaken,70 ( 3/4).
Sebregts, K. (2015). The sociophonetics and phonology of Dutch r. LOT.
Van Bezooijen, R. (2005). Approximant/r/in Dutch: Routes and feelings. Speech Communication,
47(1), 15-31.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IMa
Appears in Collections:Quantitative Lexicology and Variational Linguistics (QLVL), Leuven

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