Janet Leppala

Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department or School

English Language and Literature

Committee Member

Eric Acton, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

Veronica Grondona, Ph.D.


Variationist sociolinguistics is more complex than meets the eye. There are many possible explanations as to why a person uses some linguistic form over another. This paper will compare the use of the word-final /t/-release variant in the speech of two Jewish women from metro Detroit who were born two years apart and who have similar socioeconomic and educational backgrounds. Despite superficial similarities between the speakers, their use of the variant differs considerably—with one speaker using the variant over 15 times more than the other. Building on existing literature on Jewish American speech and on /t/-release, this study will compare the uses of this variant in these two seemingly similar speakers, show that they use the variant in different ways and with varying frequency, and shed light on what is behind those differences. The analysis shows that despite sociological similarities, speakers have an individualized linguistic style.

Included in

Linguistics Commons