Rhythm in Stockholm's two working-class varieties: Separate models predict intervocalic durational contrast

Nathan Young


This study shows that two distinct social models predict speech rhythm variation -- measured by the *normalized pairwise variability index of vowels* (*nPVI-V*) -- for Stockholm's two working classes. The non-white working-class variety (multiethnolect) has *less* intervocalic durational contrast than the speech of elites (41--51 vs. 49--57) and correlates with the speaker's neighborhood diversity. Incremental *increases* in neighborhood diversity correlate with incremental *decreases* in nPVI-V. The white working-class variety has *more* intervocalic durational contrast than the speech of elites (53--61 vs. 49--57) and correlates to occupational status. Incremental *decreases* in occupational status correlate with incremental *increases* in nPVI-V. The data comes from 31 male Stockholmers, ages 24--49, who read aloud a passage with 285 vocalic elements. Thirteen self-identify as white `Swedes': five working class, eight upper-middle class (`elites'). Eighteen self-identify as non-white `immigrants': five working class, seven lower-middle class, six upper-middle class (`elites'). Twenty-eight were born in Sweden; three arrived before age four. They hail from five neighborhood types that are representative of Stockholm's geographic ethnic distributions. The findings add Swedish multiethnolect to a growing list of contact varieties with less intervocalic durational contrast than their heritage counterparts. The findings also nudge our field's discussion of rhythm away from second-language acquisition to the social domain of race and class. At the same time, a new research question emerges whether intervocalic durational contrast is a sociolinguistic variable in its own right or a byproduct of segment-level variation.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-91

Cite as: Young, N. (2018) Rhythm in Stockholm's two working-class varieties: Separate models predict intervocalic durational contrast. Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018, 448-452, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-91.


@inproceedings{Young2018,
  author={Nathan Young},
  title={Rhythm in Stockholm's two working-class varieties: Separate models predict intervocalic durational contrast},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018},
  pages={448--452},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-91},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-91}
}