Insights into the phonetic system of 21st century Falkland Islands English


Falkland Islands English (FIE) constitutes one of the least investigated Southern Hemisphere English varieties. According to the limited literature available, English seems to have been established as a koinè among the different groups of foreign seasonal workers who temporarily populated the islands along with missionaries and pensioners in the mid-nineteenth century. Today, more than half of the population is settled, although many regularly travel to England to study or work. Falkland Island English has therefore become increasingly closer to British English, losing the subtle types of variation that characterized the original variety. To date, the few existing studies on the specific phonological characteristics of Falkland Island English seem to indicate that the formation of a new dialect did not occur despite the fact that ideal conditions existed (Trudgill 2004). This paper aims to offer empirical insights into the contemporary use of FIE based on the analysis of data collected from online video recordings of conversations of various Falkland Islanders. The data analysed include a number of conversations and speeches by five adults, three female and two male native Falkland Islanders, key figures in local media broadcasts. Attention was paid to certain phonological features identified in the literature as distinctive of this variety of English to see if they were indeed still present in the inhabitants’ speech. The results were then compared with other variants of the English language in the Southern Hemisphere. It emerged that the contemporary use of FIE actually shows characteristics that are increasingly closer to the original, distancing the possibility of koineization, in contrast to what happened to the other varieties in the Southern Hemisphere which instead are fully focused (Le Page, Tabouret-Keller 1985). Despite the considerable limitations of the study, including the small number of speakers and the formality of the medium, the present analysis offers an empirical contribution on the contemporary use of Falkland Island English and at the same time highlights the need for further investigation into the forms and structures of the Falkland Island variety in informal and local contexts.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v53p189

Keywords: English varieties; Falkland Islands; language change; phonological system; sociolinguistic studies


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