Tuesday, August 8, 2017

South African English

South African English has considerable social and regional variation. It features the trap-bath split and with the exception of speakers influenced by Afrikaans, is non-rhotic. The main phonological features of the South African dialect are the vowels.

The vowel in kit tends to be more centralized than in other varieties of English. In the word bath, the vowel is more open and retracted than in other dialects. The diphthongs of words such as town and side are often monophthongized.

With respect to consonants, /h/ is often voiced word-initially and voiceless plosives are often unaspirated or less aspirated than in other varieties.

Among South African speakers who don't monophthongize words such as town and side, the first component of the diphthong is more retracted than in standard English. The low front vowel of had is often raised to the vowel of head and the mid front vowel of head is often raised to the high front vowel of hid. This feature is also characteristic of New Zealand English.

Many South African speakers flap the [d] and [t] in intervocalic position. For these speakers, words such as medal and metal sound identical. Flapping is especially common in casual speech.

South African English has vowel retraction in words such as bath, a tendency to monophthongize the diphthongs of words such as town and side, vowel raising and flapping. It has the trap-bath split and is non-rhotic for most speakers. The English of South Africa is far from uniform and reflects the social and ethnic backgrounds of its speakers.

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