Title of Work

Methodological considerations in the study of sociophonetic variation in an underdocumented minority language: Somali Bantu Kizigua as a case study

Document Type


Publication/Presentation Date

January 2013

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Last Page



This paper presents an example of how research can be done on sociophonetic variation within a community of speakers of an underdocumented minority language. The paper begins with a discussion and critique of the Labovian sociolinguistic interview, which has formed the basis of a large body of work on variation. Current research on Somali Bantu Kizigua, a minority language from East Africa, is discussed. A modified Labovian sociolinguistic interview was implemented for collecting data on the language. Results from this study reveal evidence of a sound change in which a historically voiceless prenasalized velar stop, */nk/, becomes a voiceless glottal fricative, /h/, with uvular consonants as intermediate stages. This change appears to confirm speaker’s intuitions about age as a major factor in variation within the community. The paper concludes with a discussion of opportunities for increased collaboration between documentary linguists and sociolinguists.