Extra Final Consonants in Educated Singapore English

Lim Siew Hwee

English Language Honours AE, NIE, 2003

Abstract

Features of Singapore English have been studied by many linguists over the years, and simplification of final consonant clusters is one characteristic that has been investigated and discussed extensively in these works. On the other hand, little work has been carried out investigating the possibility of extra sounds being inserted in Singapore English, especially in the area of extra final consonants.

This Academic Exercise follows up in greater depth a preliminary study done by Setter and Deterding (2003) in their description of inserted final consonants in Hong Kong and Singapore English. It examines the production of extra final consonants by speakers of Educated Singapore English. Based mainly on auditory analysis, this study seeks to find out the different types of extra final consonants, possible hypotheses for their occurrence, and the frequency of their occurrence in three styles of speech ĘC elicited read speech, formal and informal conversational speech.

Auditory analysis was performed on the data collected from students of the National Institute of Education. Four types of consonants added to word finally were found: alveolar fricatives, labelled /s/, alveolar plosives, labelled /t/, velar plosives, labelled /k/, and lateral /l/. Many of the instances of these extra final consonants can be attributed to some grammatical reasoning such as pluralizing noncount nouns, but the occurrence of others are likely to be a result of some non-grammatical interpretations: mis-timing of articulatory gestures or qualitative hypercorrection. In addition, the frequency of occurrence of the extra final consonants was the highest in the formal conversational data and lowest in the informal conversational data. However, the appearance of extra final consonants in speech is quite marginal, so it is impossible to carry out any statistical analysis to find out if their occurrence varies significantly under the different speaking conditions.