Dentalisation as regional indicator in General South African English: An acoustic analysis of /z/, /d/ and /t/

  • Cathleen O’Grady
  • Ian Bekker


Drawing on Bekker’s (2007) study on the dentalisation of /s/ among young middle-class females from Johannesburg, this research aims to test whether the other traditionally alveolar oral obstruents, namely /z/, /d/ and /t/, are similarly fronted. The speech of two groups, one consisting of five females from prestigious private schools in Johannesburg and the other consisting of five females from similar schools in Cape Town, was recorded and the data analysed acoustically. For /z/, a spectral moments analysis was employed (Jongman, Wayland & Wong, 2000), which examined four parameters: centre of gravity, standard deviation, skewness and kurtosis. For /d/ and /t/, a metric established by Jongman, Blumstein and Lahiri (1984) was used, one which involves calculating the ratio of the root mean square (rms) amplitude at the onset of voicing against the rms amplitude of the stop burst. Results support the hypothesis that /z/ is dentalised by Johannesburg speakers, but do not support a similar hypothesis for /d/ and /t/.

Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 2011, 29(1): 77–88

Author Biographies

Cathleen O’Grady
Department of English Language and Linguistics, Rhodes University, PO Box 94, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa
Ian Bekker
School of Languages, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University, Private Bag X6001, Potchefstroom 2520, South Africa

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-9461
print ISSN: 1607-3614