Sound maintenance and change

Exploring inter-language phonetic influence in first-generation italo-australian immigrants


  • Ottavia Tordini Department of Philology, Literature and Linguistics, University of Pisa
  • Vincenzo Galatà National Research Council (ISTC - CNR), Padua
  • Cinzia Avesani National Research Council (ISTC - CNR), Padua
  • Mario Vayra Department of Classical Philology and Italian Studies, University of Bologna



sociophonetics, dialect, language variation and change, heritage languages, Italo-Australian immigrants, fricatives, spectral moments


The present study explores the phonetic influence exerted by late-acquired L3 English on the native dialect of four first-generation Italo-Australian speakers from Belluno, Northern Veneto, who moved to Sydney, Australia in the mid-late 1950s. We map phenomena of attrition, maintenance and/or loss in their spoken L1 (Veneto dialect) by investigating the fine phonetic details of selected voiceless coronal obstruents: the interdental [θ], shared with English L3 but absent in the phonological inventory of their L2 (Standard Italian, SI); [s] and [ʧ], present in all the three repertoires. Their dialectal productions are compared to those of four control speakers who were born and live in the same area of origin of the four first-generation Italo-Australian speakers.




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