Phonological acquisition in multi-accent Singapore

LMS TGIF_2024-04-12
12 Apr 2024 03.30 PM - 05.30 PM SHHK Conference Room (05-57) Alumni, Current Students, Industry/Academic Partners, Prospective Students, Public
Organised by:
Francesco Cavallaro

There is consensus that Singapore English is not a monolithic variety, and that there exists considerable inter- and intra-speaker variation in the accents of its speakers despite their use of various pan-Singaporean features. Yet, little is currently understood as to how variable input affects phonological outcomes of preschoolers who are acquiring Singapore English natively. A related question is whether children exposed to multiple accents or variable input in one community are building the same linguistic systems, given the wide-ranging outcomes. Using findings from recent studies that examined the acquisition of intonation, stop voicing contrast, coda stops, and laterals, I first describe how the properties of speech input to children in Singapore can vary considerably, sometimes in socially meaningful ways. I then demonstrate how variability in the production patterns of children may reflect the properties of their caregivers, but this is not always the case. I also show that despite high inter- and intra-child variability in their production, there is still considerable systematicity and predictability. I conclude with some recommendations for research early phonological acquisition in similarly diverse contexts. 

Jasper Sim is an Assistant Professor at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University. He completed his PhD (2022) in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at the University of Cambridge under the supervision of Prof. Brechtje Post. His research focuses on issues that sit at the intersections of child language acquisition, phonetics, and sociolinguistics. He is also interested in language processing and in issues relating to language, race, and culture.