The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Ettien Koffi

Second Advisor

Jen Tuder

Third Advisor

Monica Devers

Keywords and Subject Headings

Language, Affrication, English, Variation, Consonant, Change


This study investigated the affrication of /t/ and /di before the palatal liquid /J/ and whether this linguistic variable is a language change occurring in American English. To investigate this, I used the methodology of an apparent time study. The methodology of this study involved finding 12 participants of varying ages and placing them into predetermined age groups. Group A had four participants aged 10-19, Group B had four participants aged 20-40, and, finally, Group Chad four participants who were over the age of 40. These participants were asked to read from a word list and a short story that elicited the linguistic variable. Their readings were recorded and analyzed. A total of 26 words were analyzed. The first research question asked what the rates of affrication were for each age group. To do this, I recorded whether participants affricated or not and then calculated average rates of affrication for each participant in each group and also calculated the average percentage affricated for each group.

Briefly, I found that on average Group A, the youngest group, affricated 94.1 % of the words, Group B 89.7 % of the words, and Group C, the oldest group, affricated 66% of the words. The second research question looked into the actual differences between these three groups. Firstly, statistical analysis found that at-test found no differences between the three groups but a regression analysis found a strong correlation and inverse relationship between age and percentage affricated. Acoustic and spectrogram analysis found that all participants produced a similar sound, regardless of age. Finally, the third research question asked about the phonological environments in which this change occurred. It was found that affrication of /t/ and /di occurred regardless of the vowel that followed the /J/.

In conclusion, this study does indeed seem to point towards affrication of /ti and Id/ before /J/ as language change since clearly younger participants affricated more frequently than older participants. A t-test of course did not show difference between the three groups. The regression analysis on the other hand showed a strong inverse relationship and that around 60% of the data variability was caused by age. This is a significant effect but could be a deceptive result due to the small sample size. Thus, although this study has found that age may have some effect on the data variability, it may be more precise to say that this variable is not a language change but rather is language variation.


This project could not have been completed without support of others. First of all, I am in great debt to my thesis committee and chair who all went above and beyond r ,- in giving me feedback, encouragement, and ideas on how to make this project a success. Secondly, my greatest gratitude goes to my parents who with great care and support taught me from an early age to pursue education with excellence. Finally, this project could not have been completed without the unrelenting encouragement of my husband and his capacity to sit and listen at great length to my musings about linguistics. Thank you so much.