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The sociophonetics and phonology of the Cavite Chabacano vowel system
Lesho, Marivic

2014, Doctor of Philosophy, Ohio State University, Linguistics.
This study analyzes the origins and development of the phonology of Cavite Chabacano, focusing particularly on the role of superstrate and substrate influence on the history of the vowel system. This endangered language, spoken in Cavite City, Philippines, is a Spanish-lexified creole with Tagalog as the substrate. The study incorporates sociophonetic methodology, insights from second language phonological acquisition, and consideration of the language attitudes and ideologies of the speakers in order to describe the development of the phonological system. The data come from word list tasks, reading tasks, interviews, and perceptual dialectology tasks conducted during six months of fieldwork.

The first part of the study describes the segmental and prosodic phonology of Cavite Chabacano, including synchronic and diachronic variation related to how the phonological system developed over time under input from the substrate and superstrate systems, particularly with respect to the vowel system. Modern Cavite Chabacano has a 5-vowel system like the superstrate Spanish and generally preserves Spanish forms faithfully, but there are some words that have vowels differing from the Spanish forms in ways that indicate early substrate influence from the Old Tagalog 3-vowel system.

The second part of the study focuses on the sociophonetic analysis of the vowel system, arguing that it is at the phonetic rather than the phonological level where substrate/adstrate influence in the language is most evident. Stressed vowels and phrase-final vowels are significantly different from unstressed and nonfinal vowels in terms of vowel quality and duration. These phonetic patterns are more characteristic of the substrate Tagalog than of the superstrate Spanish. The results also confirm and expand upon previous claims (German 1932, Miranda 1956) about dialectal variation in the vowel system. The dialects of the Caridad and San Roque districts of Cavite City both have acoustic overlap between unstressed high and mid vowels, but in San Roque there is more phrase-final mid vowel raising, particularly for /e/. Overall, Caridad has a more dispersed vowel system compared to San Roque, perhaps indicating greater phonetic restructuring as the additional vowel contrasts of Spanish were acquired. However, substrate influence in the prosodic conditioning and phonetic realization of the vowels is evident in both districts.

The third part of the study shows that Cavite Chabacano speakers have high metalinguistic awareness of this dialectal variation in the vowel system, and that the San Roque dialect has greater prestige. It is argued that substrate influence in the vowel system initially arose through phonetic restructuring during second language acquisition, but that due to sociohistorical and ideological motivations, the substrate features were retained even as Cavite Chabacano phonology otherwise conformed to standard Spanish in terms of other features.

The study combines methodology and insights from sociophonetics, historical phonology, second language acquisition, and perceptual dialectology in order to provide a nuanced account of how the Cavite Chabacano vowel system emerged and developed over time. The results demonstrate how substrate influence in creoles can be evident at the phonetic as well as the phonological level, and how sociohistorical factors can shape the development of the language.
Donald Winford (Advisor)
Mary Beckman (Committee Member)
Cynthia Clopper (Committee Member)
416 p.

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Lesho, M. (2014). The sociophonetics and phonology of the Cavite Chabacano vowel system. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from

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Lesho, Marivic. "The sociophonetics and phonology of the Cavite Chabacano vowel system." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2014. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 19 Nov 2018.

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Lesho, Marivic "The sociophonetics and phonology of the Cavite Chabacano vowel system." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2014.


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