Hiatus resolution and linguistic diversity in Australian English

Joshua Penney*, Felicity Cox, Andy Gibson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Vowel hiatus is typically resolved in Australian English through complementary strategies of liaison (j-gliding/w-gliding/linking-r) and glottalisation. Previous work suggests a change in progress towards increased use of glottalisation as an optimal hiatus-breaker, which creates syntagmatic contrast between adjacent vowels, particularly when the right-edge vowel is strong (i.e. at the foot boundary). Liaison continues to be used when right-edge vowels are weak, but glottalisation as a hiatus resolution strategy in general appears to be increasing and may be more common in speakers from non-English speaking backgrounds raising the question of whether exposure to linguistic diversity could be driving the change. We examine hiatus resolution in speakers from neighbourhoods that vary according to levels of language diversity. We elicited gliding and linking-r hiatus contexts to determine how prosodic strength of flanking vowels and speakers’ exposure to linguistic diversity affect hiatus resolution. Results confirm that glottalisation occurs most frequently with strong right-edge vowels, and gliding/linking-r are more likely with weak right-edge vowels. However, strategies differ between gliding and linking-r contexts, suggesting differing implementation mechanisms. In addition, speakers from ethnolinguistically diverse areas produce increased glottalisation in all contexts supporting the idea that change to the hiatus resolution system may be driven by language contact.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119–152
Number of pages34
Issue number2
Early online date27 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Copyright de Gruyter 2024. Article originally published in Phonetica, vol. 81, no. 2, 2024, pp. 119-152. The original article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/phon-2023-0029. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • hiatus resolution
  • Australian English
  • glottalisation
  • linguistic diversity
  • prosodic strength


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