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A History of Hyper-Rhoticity in English

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The findings of Britton (2005) in his journal article: A history of hyper-rhoticity in English shall be presented in this paper. The paper will discuss the major issues addressed in the paper, how the researcher goes about addressing the issues, the numerical and statistical data presented, the major findings and recommendations. How well the paper has detailed, synthesized and analyzed the research issues including the methodologies employed, shall be presented. The major learning lessons and how the article reinforces theory on issues under discussion shall also be highlighted, and any limitations pointed out.

The major issues/questions addressed in the paper

Previous researches on accents in linguistic evolution have been published in the recent decades. A history of hyper-rhoticity is perhaps the most fascinating attempt in that the author has presented a thoroughly analyzed hypothesis concerning the shape of accent. The article goes beyond and offers much more than speculation on the history of hyper–rhoticity in English. Psychologists and researchers have thus paid a lot of focus and attention on history of hyper-rhoticity in English and its contribution and influence to the modern language.  While literature has reinforced theory on the learning and provided explanations for the variances in linguistic forms, a lot of unanswered questions abide given the multidimensional characteristic of linguistics as a field of study (1)

 

The author in this study was therefore interesting in providing contributions and reinforcing the literature on the role of hyper-rhoticity in English. The authors investigated the hyper-rhoticity in English by an experimental analysis of various forms of linguistic models and their effects on the modern language. Specifically, the article traces the history of this phenomenon and attempts to show that Early Modern English data which have hitherto been interpreted as evidence for loss of /r/ in such contexts are better attributed to hyper-rhoticity1.

The study was conducted to establish the source of history of this phenomenon.To effectively address the research question of this study, Britton had to carry out an analysis as to the contention that exist between rhoticity and non rhoticity in English; not a mere and shallow difference in the “in the distribution of ⁄ r ⁄ , only in its realization in non-prevocalic contexts in that these contexts in that it has changed from a constrictive consonantal articulation to a no constrictive vocalic articulation through a gradual reduction in the amplitude of the coronal gesture”1. Towards this, the author carried out a comparative analysis between lettering, metalling and threatening. 

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Results and discussions

The authors presented the results of the study through the text, tabular and semi-tabular presentation methods. The history of hyper-rhoticity in English is a wide subject that has the capacity to provide enough literature for analysis. As expected, the author was more successful in developing the origin and rich historical background on this subject. Another important observation was related to the author’s assertion “Because an ⁄ r ⁄ is postulated in actor, it does not follow automatically that there should be an ⁄ r ⁄ postulated in actors; rather, each phonological form should be analyzed on its own terms, without considering the morphological or lexical relations entered into by the grammatical item it is the phonological form of”.

According to the authors, the major implications of the study were that it is important to determine how new information will be processed by leading people to understand the history of hyper-rhoticity in English in different ways, and more so for the advancements of research work in this field of study.

In understanding the rich history of this subject, more positive attributes can be inculcated to provide more researchers with specific and stable base on where to begin their works. “There is no room in this paper to rehearse the arguments or present the full implications for such an analysis, except to point out that it calls into questioning  the assumption that the phonological form (or ‘underlying’ form) of a stem+affix construction properly contains the phonological form of the stem”2

Critique of the article

The author has settled on an appropriate topic that immediately makes it clear what issues are to be discussed in the paper. The abstract presented is an accurate and comprehensive summarization of the entire thesis. The author has also presented a clear introduction that clearly introduces the topic of research where the thesis statement has been clearly and explicitly stated.

An organization of the thesis and the major headings under discussion has also been presented in a way that help the reader understand the flow of the thesis.  The literature review is detailed, accurate and to the point. No unnecessary citations have been presented and the citations are accurate and consistent. The methodology used is also appropriate for the research as it follows a clear synthesis of the major findings as presented by various authors on the topic under discussion, based on empirical as well as theoretical research.  The discussion presented is detailed, comprehensive and informative and helps the reader understand the issues that were presented in as far as the interpretation of the results is concerned. The author did not only give detailed information on the rich history of hyper-rhoticity in English, its relation to the modern language and the need for more research on the subject. The author also expounded on the memory operations that make information available to the working memory in linguistics. These were the strongest part of the study. The conclusion and key finding generated from this research study and future research have also been succinctly presented.

 

Major learning lessons

The major learning lessons is that since the study points to the history and historical aspects of the study, the historical suggestions would have undergone further evaluation to ascertain their accuracy and validity. Such a step has the overall resounding effect of achieving valid results, conclusions and recommendations.  As has been pointed out though, the one limitation identified is with regards to the fact that the author has used a limited number of texts in the study and as such a large number would have been more appropriate. The instruments of research adopted, may actually have failed to provide for sensitivity between groups. The above limitations presents us with a rich area for further research where the above study can be replicated and the limitations addressed by the use of a bigger and different sample and subjects, assessed over a longer (shorter) interval. This would help as draw inferences into the authencity and validity of the results presented in this article and act as a basis for cross-reference.

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