Acoustic Features of the Non-Ethnically Marked Kenyan English in the Speech of Selected University Lecturers
Itumo, Joshua Mulinge
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This study is an acoustic analysis of the phonological segments of the non-ethnically marked Kenyan English (KenE). KenE is contextualized within Kachru’s World Englishes (WEs) and its progress towards a ‘standard’ variety of English is accounted for within Schneider’s Dynamic Model for Post- Colonial Englishes (PCEs).The research objectives were: to describe the acoustic characteristics of the non-ethnically marked KenE phonological segments; to identify the phonemes in the non-ethnically marked KenE; to account for the observed phonological patterns within the Element Theory (ET); and to compare the internal element structure of KenE phonemes with that of the Received Pronunciation (RP), the accent associated with the Standard British English (SBE). Oral data was obtained by audio recording as purposively selected university lecturers read, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, a passage which is commonly used for English phonemic analyses. The primary oral data was analysed using Praat software. Quantitative data was further analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) and presented in tables and written descriptions. Qualitative data was presented in figures. The study mainly found out that KenE tends towards eight monophthongs and six diphthongs. KenE does not have a ‘dark l’ and unlike the RP, it does not aspirate the fortis plosives. The lenis plosives are, on the other hand, characterized by a voicing lead. Also, KenE does not distinguish the two dental fricatives. The research findings provide useful insights for the codification of the phonology of an envisioned ‘standard’ variety of Kenyan English.