Gende(r) in the Boston Accent: A linguistic analysis of Boston (r) from a gender perspective

University essay from Malmö universitet/Kultur och samhälle

Abstract: The Boston accent is one of the most famous accents in the United States and is known for its non-rhoticity, which essentially means that Bostonians do not normally pronounce their r’s after vowels. While most Boston locals would tell you to ‘pahk the cah ova hea’ when you arrive in the city, not every Bostonian has the same level of non-rhoticity; this variation is due to a number of different factors, but arguably one of the most interesting factors, which this paper focuses on, is gender. This study looks into how Boston non-rhoticity differs between males and females, as well the theories that explain these potential differences. This is done by collecting and analyzing the speech of Boston locals, following two previous studies on the same topic. In addition to gender, types of speech and other social factors are also analyzed. The biggest finding of this study is that there is a statistically significant difference in non-rhoticity between males and females, with females pronouncing more r’s, which supports one previous study and opposes another, and also supports the linguistic theory that women tend to exhibit more standardized speech than men.

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