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date: 31 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Launched in 1989, when Elizabeth Gordon became aware of the existence of a set of recordings of early New Zealand English, the Origins of New Zealand English Project (ONZE) provides a unique opportunity to investigate sound change. These “Mobile Unit” (MU) recordings were made in the 1940s for radio broadcast, and included reminiscences from speakers born as early as the 1850s. The recordings are significant because they date to the first stages of large-scale immigration to New Zealand from the British Isles, representing the first generation of English speakers born in New Zealand. These recordings, which are in the possession of the University of Canterbury, form the core of the ONZE project. Interviews with more than 100 of these early speakers have now been compiled, digitized, transcribed, time-aligned, and then automatically segmented at the phoneme level. The Mobile Unit recordings have been a valuable tool for testing theories of the formation of new dialects.

Keywords: sound change, New Zealand, English, Mobile Unit, recordings, Elizabeth Gordon, Origins of New Zealand English Project, immigration, British Isles, University of Canterbury, evidence, linguistics

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