A variationist approach to the examination of insertion and deletion of /h/ in Kosraean English

Lynch, Sara (23 April 2016). A variationist approach to the examination of insertion and deletion of /h/ in Kosraean English (Unpublished). In: NWAV AP 4. Chiayi, Taiwan. 22.-24.04.2016.

I report on language variation in the unresearched variety of English emerging on Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia. English is spoken as the inter-island lingua franca throughout Micronesia and has been the official language of FSM since gaining its independence in 1986, though still retaining close ties with the US through and economic “compact” agreement.
I present here an analysis of a corpus of over 90 Kosraean English speakers, compiled during a three month fieldwork trip to the island in the Western Pacific. The 45 minute sociolinguistically sensitive recordings are drawn from a corpus of old and young, with varying levels of education and occupations, and off-island experiences.
In the paper I analyse two variables. The first variable is the realisation of /h/, often subject to deletion in both L1 and L2 varieties of English. Such occurrences are commonly associated with Cockney English, but also found in Caribbean English and the postcolonial English of Australia.
For example:
 Male, 31: yeah I build their house their local huts and they pay me
/h/ deletion is frequent in Kosraean English, but, perhaps expectedly, occurs slightly less among people with higher contact with American English, through having spent longer periods off island.
The second feature under scrutiny is the variable epenthesis of [h] to provide a consonantal onset to vowel-initial syllables.
 Male, 31: that guy is really hold now
This practice is also found beyond Kosraean English. Previous studies find h-epenthesis arising in L1 varieties including Newfoundland and Tristan de Cunha English, while similar manifestations are identified in Francophone L2 learners of English.
My variationist statistical analysis has shown [h] insertion:
 to disproportionately occur intervocalically;
 to be constrained by both speaker gender and age: older males are much more likely to epenthesis [h] in their speech;
 to be more likely in the onset of stressed as opposed to unstressed syllables.
In light of the findings of my analysis, I consider the relationship between h-deletion and h-epenthesis, the plausibility of hypercorrection as a motivation for the variation, and the potential influence of the substrate language, alongside sociolinguistic factors such as attitudes towards the US based on mobility. The analysis sheds light on the extent to which different varieties share this characteristic and the comparability of them in terms of linguistic constraints and attributes.

Clarke, S. (2010). Newfoundland and Labrador English. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press
Hackert, S. (2004). Urban Bahamian Creole: System and Variation. Varieties of English Around the World G32. Amsterdam: Benjamins
Milroy, J. (1983). On the Sociolinguistic History of H-dropping in English in Current topics in English historical linguistics: Odense UP

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures

UniBE Contributor:

Lynch, Sara


800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism > 820 English & Old English literatures
400 Language > 420 English & Old English languages




Sara Lynch

Date Deposited:

04 Mar 2016 07:31

Last Modified:

04 Mar 2016 07:31



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