Large-Scale Acoustic Characterization of Singaporean Children's English Pronunciation

by   Yuling Gu, et al.

In this work, we investigate pronunciation differences in English spoken by Singaporean children in relation to their American and British counterparts by conducting Kmeans clustering and Archetypal analysis on selected vowel pairs and approximants. Given that Singapore adopts British English as the institutional standard due to historical reasons, one might expect Singaporean children to follow British pronunciation patterns. Indeed, Singaporean and British children are more similar in their production of syllable-final /r/ – they do not lower their third formant nearly as much as American children do, suggesting a lack of rhoticity. Interestingly, Singaporean children also present similar patterns to American children when it comes to their fronting of vowels as demonstrated across various vowels including TRAP-BATH split vowels. Singaporean children's English also demonstrated characteristics that do not resemble any of the other two populations. We observe that Singaporean children's vowel height characteristics are distinct from both that of American and British children. In tense and lax vowel pairs, we also consistently observe that the distinction is less conspicuous for Singaporean children compared to the other speaker groups. Further, while American and British children demonstrate lowering of F1 and F2 formants in transitions into syllable-final /l/s, a wide gap between F2 and F3 formants, and small difference between F1 and F2 formants, all of these are not exhibited in Singaporean children's pronunciation. These findings point towards potential sociolinguistic implications of how Singapore English might be evolving to embody more than British pronunciation characteristics. Furthermore, these findings also suggest that Singapore English could be have been influenced by languages beyond American and British English, potentially due to Singapore's multilingual environment.


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