The Potential Influence of American English on some Pronunciation Features of Young Educated Singaporeans:
An Acoustic and Attitudinal Exploration

Eu Lay Kim, Veronica

English Language Honours AE, NIE, 2004


This study investigates the potential influence of American English (AmE) on some pronunciation features of young educated Singaporeans by examining the prevalence (both perceptually and acoustically) of two AmE features -- postvocalic /r/ and intervocalic flapped /t/ in conversational speech. At the same time, attitudes towards Singaporeans speaking with a distinctive AmE accent are also elicited.

Results show that postvocalic /r/ is not a commonly occurring feature in the speech of Singaporeans. Comparatively, intervocalic flapped /t/, is a more commonly occurring feature. An acoustic investigation of both these features was attempted by calculating the rate of change (ROC) of F3 for vowels preceding realised and unrealised postvocalic /r/, and measuring the closures of realised and unrealised intervocalic flapped /t/. Although no significant findings emerged for postvocalic /r/, closures of realised and unrealised intervocalic flapped /t/ were significantly different.

Results from the attitudinal test suggest that while Singaporeans have positive attitudes towards AmE in general, they do not seem to like it when Singaporeans speak with a distinctive AmE accent, as they feel that it sounds pretentious. The overall favourable attitude towards AmE seems to suggest that young educated Singaporeans may no longer regard British English (BrE) as the only model in pronunciation. However, at the same time, they do not want to sound too American so as to preserve their own linguistic identity.