Cross-linguistic vowel variation in trilingual speakers of Saterland Frisian, Low German, and High German

Jörg Peters, W.J. Heeringa, Heike Schoormann

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

The present study compares the acoustic realization of Saterland Frisian, Low German, and High German vowels by trilingual speakers in the Saterland. The Saterland is a rural municipality in northwestern Germany. It offers the unique opportunity to study trilingualism with languages that differ both by their vowel inventories and by external factors, such as their social status and the autonomy of their speech communities. The objective of the study was to examine whether the trilingual speakers differ in their acoustic realizations of vowel categories shared by the three languages and whether those differences can be interpreted as effects of either the differences in the vowel systems or of external factors. Monophthongs produced in a /hVt/ frame revealed that High German vowels show the most divergent realizations in terms of vowel duration and formant frequencies, whereas Saterland Frisian and Low German vowels show small differences. These findings suggest that vowels of different languages are likely to share the same phonological space when the speech communities largely overlap, as is the case with Saterland Frisian and Low German, but may resist convergence if at least one language is shared with a larger, monolingual speech community, as is the case with High German.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)991-1005
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Volume142
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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