Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Modern Languages


Modern Languages

First Advisor

Vance K. Schaefer

Second Advisor

Valerio Cappozzo

Third Advisor

Allison Burkette

Relational Format



The present study focuses on the linguistic analysis of the varieties of the Sicilian dialect spoken in the city of Detroit, Michigan. The city has witnessed, starting from the early 19th century, a steady process of immigration and settlement involving speakers mainly arriving from the two Sicilian coastal towns of Terrasini and Cinisi. The varieties they speak appear to have never been the subject of systematic observation. The present study, thus, focuses on the preservation, attrition and/or loss of the phonological features of the Sicilian dialect spoken by a community of Sicilian immigrants of different generations living in Detroit. Native speakers of Sicilian who had immigrated to the United States as first-generation Americans and their second-generation American children were interviein both Sicilian and English. They responded to questions concerning their life in the US, retold a story seen in a picture book and counted from one to 20. Sections of the interview in both languages were then judged by native speakers of Sicilian and English respectively for native-like pronunciation. The analysis of the data tried to determine what variables affect the (possible) differences in the subjects’ phonology, and whether these differences can affect the perception of native-like pronunciation.


Emphasis: Linguistics

Included in

Linguistics Commons



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