Voice Onset Time of Voiceless Stops in the English of the El Paso Del Norte Region

Kyla Ann McMillan, University of Texas at El Paso


This study analyzes the English voice onset time (VOT) for voiceless stops in stressed initial positon in the El Paso del Norte Region and compares the results to those from previous studies. This was done in order to determine if the English in the El Paso area, on the border with Juárez, México is being influenced by Spanish. VOT is a great measure to analyze voiceless stops in initial stressed positon due to the noted short lag of Spanish stops and long lag of English stops in this phonological environment. To test whether the English of this region conformed more to the short lag of Spanish or long lag of English, 45 participants were recruited and split into three different language groups, those who acquired English as their first language, those who acquired Spanish as their first language, and those who acquired both English and Spanish before the age of five. Participants completed different speaking tasks which were recorded and then analyzed in Praat for their VOT. The average VOT values, by place of articulation, were shorter for all language groups than those previously recorded for monolingual English speakers. Although previous studies have found that VOTs are shorter when located within sentences rather than in single words, that is likely not the only reason in this study. The values are consistently shorter, as shown in the current study, for first language English speakers who have had some degree of exposure to Spanish, than for monolingual English speakers, as represented by previous studies. The detailed language background questions which were asked in this study become of particular interest in the discussion of the results. Given that the study sought to analyze the English of the El Paso del Norte region and the majority of the first language Spanish speakers primarily use English to communicate, a correct analysis of the English of region could not exclude them. Therefore, the first language English speakers are not the only representatives of English in El Paso and the average VOT of this combined group is affected.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

McMillan, Kyla Ann, "Voice Onset Time of Voiceless Stops in the English of the El Paso Del Norte Region" (2018). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10823367.