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Abstract

This investigation of VOT (Voice Onset Time) of stop consonants in Montenegrinaccented English started as linguistic curiosity when Abat realized in Prof. Koffi’s LabPhon (Laboratory Phonology course) that she produced [b, d, g] with negative VOT while many of her American classmates and other L2 students in the course did not. She recorded another female Montenegrin speaker of English whose voiced stops also had negative VOT. This made her more curious and motivated her to record yet another female Montenegrin whose voiced stops also turned out to have negative VOT. It is not uncommon for speakers to produce negative VOT. However, it is unusual for three out of three speakers of the same language to have negative VOT. These phonetic “coincidences” have aroused Koffi’s suspicion that maybe [b, d, g] are produced with negative VOT in Montenegrin. This may turn out to be only a conjecture. However, it is a conjecture worth pursuing because it may conceal a deeper linguistic reality about Montenegrin and/or Montenegrin-accented English waiting to be discovered. A largescale study needs to be undertaken to establish whether this is a case of a negative phonetic transfer of VOT or not.

Author Bio

Ettien Koffi is a professor of Linguistics. He teaches the linguistics courses in the TESOL/Applied Linguistics M.A. program in the English Department at Saint Cloud State University, MN. He has written three linguistic books: Language Society in Biblical Times (1996), Applied English Syntax (2010), and Paradigm Shift in Language Planning and Policy: Game Theoretic Solutions (2012). He is the author of many peerreviewed articles on various topics in linguistics. His primary area of specialization is at the interface between acoustic phonetics and phonology. He has extensive experience in emergent orthographies and in the acoustic phonetic and phonological description of dialect variation. He can be reached via email at: enkoffi@stcloudstate.edu.

Martina Abat is an undergraduate student from Montenegro. She studies English language and literature at University of Montenegro. In 2012, Martina received a scholarship from the Department of State to study in the United States for one academic year. Her native language is Montenegrin, but she is also fluent in English, which she has been studying for 13 years. She can be reached via email at: abatmartina@gmail.com.

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