Prof. Dr. D. Schreier
Dialect Variation and Change Among Twice Migrants: A Sociophonetic Study of the East African Indian Community in Leicester, UK
Recent years have seen a notable increase of sociolinguistic interest in the varieties of English found in the Indian diaspora, one of the major migratory movements of the modern period. The present study is a sociophonetic investigation of the English spoken by East African Indians in Leicester, a community of South Asian twice migrants who settled in Britain via East Africa in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It contributes to the field in two ways. On a descriptive level, it adds to the existing knowledge by providing insight into patterns of dialect variation and change in an Indian diasporic context that has not been investigated yet. On a theoretical level, it explores the potential of double diaspora situations, an under-researched type of contact setting, to improve our understanding of the linguistic consequences of migration and contact. Secondary diaspora situations are of considerable interest to sociolinguistic research as they raise the question of how such complex migration patterns affect the varieties of English spoken by immigrant communities. More specifically, does contact with the dialects, languages and cultures of three different societies lead to linguistic outcomes that differ from those found in primary diaspora situations? The present study investigates this question by examining variation in the production of one consonantal variable, postvocalic /r/, and three vocalic variables, FOOT, STRUT and NURSE, in a group of first- and second-generation migrants. The results indicate that, despite a strong sense of affiliation with East Africa, first- generation speakers have predominantly maintained Indian English patterns in their use of these variables, whereas second-generation speakers show accommodation to the local variety of British English. Evidence from the community’s social history accounts for the findings.