School Based Accent In A Prestige School Education Essay

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It is perceived by villagers, close to the Saint Augustine Girls High School, that these students have an accent, that consist of features such as, a higher pitch, high number of intonations, words and syllable stress. These are the stereotypical features associated with the accent.

The six main cliques at the Saint Augustine Girls High School, do share similar features in their speech, such as pitch, but they share differences, of pitch word and syllable stress. These cliques do not share the same features to be associated with a uniform school based accent. Each clique has their own unique way of speaking that separates them from the other cliques.


The perception that prestige schools are associated with an "accent" is very common in Trinidad. The word 'perception' in this context refers to hearsay or rumours. The definition of accent is the way someone speaks, taking into account variation and style of their speech. Therefore by this definition everyone has an accent. Each person's accent may not be as unique but may share similarities. This would mean that not only prestige schools can have an accent, but all schools. However, the 'hearsay' and "rumours" of a school based accent is only associated with a prestige schools. Very little is said about the way non-prestige schools speak, which can lead to different views on a school based accent.

Building on previous studies on how to measure speech and voice by Ronald J Baken and Robert F. Orlikoff, assessing the existence of a uniformed school based can be done, using examples from these studies.


The St. Augustine Girls' High School was established on September 19th 1950, and was part of the Archibald Institute. In 1951 the school was relocated to Austin Street Curepe. It was only in 1952 that the school lay down its first foundation and began the physical building of what is today, the St. Augustine Girls' High School. The foundation was built on land leased from the Caroni sugar cane plantations.

On May 12th 1953, the first classes were held in the new building. The school then had a mere number of three teachers, Miss Constance Wagar, Miss Grace Beattie and Mrs. Undine Guiseppi. There first graduation was held in September 29th 1955 and in 1956 the Principal, Miss Phoebe Lahouri joined the staff and oversaw the second graduation ceremony.

In 1957 the Government of Trinidad and Tobago finally recognized the institution and for the first time since establishment the government paid the teachers a salary. It was also in that year that the school began a housing system which allowed for competitions amongst the girls in the schools. The houses were named after the founding members of staff, Lahouri, Wagar and Beattie.

Eight years after its establishment in 1958, the school celebrated having amounted to a total of three hundred and thirty four students and sixteen members of staff. In 1960 the school's auditorium was donated by Reverend Kitney, and still stands today.

One year later, they said good bye to Dr. Constance Wagar and welcome two new houses, Mahase and Guiseppi. By then the student enrollment figure and increased to five hundred and four and the number of staff members was twenty four.

In 1962, Miss Anna Mahase became the new principal. She is today still regarded and the most disciplined, feared and respected women to have joined the S.A.G.H.S.'s family.

The school's science wing was opened in 1966 by the late Dr. Eric Williams. Three years later, the girls decided it was time for change, so the shed their old uniform of a pleated skirt, white shirt and tie, much like that of their sister school Naparima Girls for the now distinctly known plaid overall.

In 1985 on of the girls, Gina Ward had the privilege of being presented to the Queen. Two of the girls placed first in the C.X.C. examinations in the Caribbean in 1988. Masumi Rankine places first overall among the Caribbean Islands and Soraya Ho Sing Loy took the first place in Arts and Craft.

The year 1991 brought more success with it as Karen De Freitas won the school's first President's gold medal. Since then, the school has enjoyed innumerable successes. S.A.G.H.S. has been one the schools that is expected to produce a number of scholarship winners and has always delivered. S.A.G.H.S. is ranked one the top schools in Trinidad and Tobago and only accepts girls ranging in the top three percent at the Secondary Entrance Assessment Examinations. S.A.G.H.S. continues to be one of the more respected girls' schools and has always remained high on the list for parents who wish greatness for their daughters.


In examining the possibility of a uniformed school based accent at the Saint Augustine Girls High School three main views were examined in this research. Firstly, the possibility that a stereotypical view of prestige schools introduces the idea that the children of this type of school, simply speaks differently because of the title "prestige". A second possibility is that the majority of the students at the school speak the same or very similar, which would prove the existence of a uniform school based accent. The third and final area, is that the different cliques with the school speak differently therefore there is no school based accent.


There were several limitations that arose in examining the title "Investigating the Existence of a Uniformed School Based Accent in a Prestige School" These included the limited amount of students and villagers tested, the research being conducted outside the school compound and potential false data when conducting interviews with both students and villagers.

In assessing people's idea of if an accent associated with this school exists, people living in close proximity o the school were interviewed. The original number of interviewees were five, but had to be reduced to two because of lack of participants living in the area.

This study examined a total of six students, one representing the different cliques within the school compound. Originally, three students from each of the six different groups were to be examined, bringing the total number of students to eighteen. This number had to be reduced because no response was received from the Ministry on whether the study can be conducted within the school compound. The research was then moved from inside the school compounds, to outside with a limited number of students who were not in the school's uniform. This had to be done in order to stay in the legal boundaries of conducting the research of a particular school. Doing this limited the number of students that could participate in the study which would decrease the accuracy of the data collected from the students on how their respective cliques speak. One student representing each clique could not be verified against other members of that particular clique. Therefore the researcher had to accept what each clique member said on how they spoke.

Like many other researches there is always the possibility of false data. The possibility remained that students could produce false data, both in the way they spoke and what they said about their speech or clique's speech.


In this reach, there were two main areas that needed to be examined. These were, the perception that this school has an accent that could be recognised by outsiders, and the second was if an accent existed or did the different cliques within the school speak differently. In order to gather the data for the research title, "Investigating the existence of a uniformed school based accent in a prestige school" several research tools were utilized. These included structured and no structured interviews, questionnaires, group and individual speaking and voice and video recordings.

Before interviewing students of the Saint Augustine Girls High School, the existence of an accent, recognisable by outsiders needed to be addressed. Two villagers living very close to the school were asked two questions. The first was, if they think that SAGHS girls have an accent, and the second was to try and imitate the way they spoke. The second question would reveal how people perceive the speech of SAGHS girls. The two villagers responses would be compared to each other examining any similarities in their answers. This part of the study tries to determine if people think that these students have and accent and what it sounds like. What these people think, and the features they identified with the student's speech, will be compared with how the girls speak in order to determine if a stereotypical view exists.

The Saint Augustine Girls High School has a population of roughly 700 girls. The sample size for this study was a total of six girls, each representing a different clique within the school. Each of these students were interviewed using a structured questionnaire with occasional random questions. The questionnaire consisted of eleven questions which were specifically designed to target the individual's speech. These questions focused on their interests and what particular group or clique they would associate themselves with. Questions were asked specifically on interests, such as music and movies in order to create a more relax mood for the individual, which would enable them to speak more naturally. Similarly some questions focused on finding out how many of their friends share the same interests that they do. This was compared with other groups to examine if they all share similar interests or if different interests may be the result of each clique speaking differently. Other questions focused on finding out how these respective cliques speak within the school and outside the school.

In order to determine the differences in pitch, tone, stress, volume and pronunciation of words between different clique members, their speech was plotted into two different frequency spectrum graphs. A frequency spectrum graph maps the differences in the height of a sound, in this case, the pitch of a person's voice. The graph shows a set frequency range in which the sound was produced on the horizontal axis and the decibel on the vertical axis. Pitch is represented on the horizontal axis, it shows all the frequencies sound was produced and the dB shows which of these frequencies are louder The decibel, represented as, "dB" is used to measure sound level, sound pressure and sound intensity. There are two ways sound can be plotted on a frequency spectrum graph using the decibel method.

The first method is that the graph can be plotted above the neutral number zero (0). The decibels would be represented by a plus sign to indicate that they are above the zero on the graph. If one graph shows a sound level of +35dB and a second graph shows a sound level +40dB, then the 40dB is a higher volume or tone because it is a higher number.

The second method of plotting the graph is below the neutral zero (0). When the graph is plotted in this way they are represented with a minus sign, because they are below the zero. If one graph shows a sound level of -35dB and a second graph shows a sound level -40dB, then the -35dB will be considered the higher tone or volume, because it is closer to the neutral zero. All the graphs in the analysis section was mapped with below the neutral zero, because it was all that was available with the program used to do it.

The second graph used to analyse the student's speech is called a Standard Autocorrelation algorithm graph. This graph is often used as a mathematical tool that can be used to measure a sound hidden in background noise, or a time domain- Signals with respects to time. This graph was applied to this study be using it to examine student's stress on words. When the sound of a word is illustrated on the graph, the graph is able to show where a pause was made (lapse in time) between syllables of a word. Therefore the graph illustrates how high each syllable in a word was produced, and if a particular syllable was stressed longer or higher that the other.

The horizontal axis of the Standard Autocorrelation algorithm graph gives the length of the signal, or in this case, the sound, in seconds including the lapse in sound (pause between syllables). The vertical axis on this graph consists of numbers that shows the height in sound.

The question that attempts to examine this, asks the students directly if they think that SAGHS has and accent. This question would show what the students think about whether or not the school has an accent and how they are sure of their responses. Each of the students response to this question will be examined, by looking at similarities and differences in the answers and reasons they gave. For example if all six students state that there is an accent, and give similar reasons why they believe this, then the majority rules that there is evidence of an accent.

After the individual interview process, two members from two respective cliques will be placed side by side and ask a series of questions. These questions will be more indebt than the questionnaire, focusing on their interest, and on the different cliques within the school and how they speak. This is done in order for the researcher to have a firsthand experience of how these two cliques speak when together, examining the similarities and differences, in stress and intonation. Besides examining how these two clique members speak, they will be asked to describe how the other cliques speak. This will be examined more closely in relation to, speaking within the school, speaking to people in authority and speaking to people outside the school.

The analysed data will be represented on graphs and charts demonstrating people's perception of an accent associated with the school and if an accent exists or if is different cliques within the school speak differently due to different influences.


Within the Saint Augustine Girls High School, there may be a uniform school based accent that exist or there may not be one at all. In examining the existence of a uniform school based accent, literature was examined on words, possible reasons for a uniform school based accent, methods and tools for analysing vocal pitch, sound intensity and stress.

A number of different methods were obtained, in how to go about collecting data. These included, choosing the correct people, questions to ask, and recording their speech. When choosing people for a research, it is best done randomly. This is to ensure that there is no biasness in choosing people and that the results will not be one-sided.

When trying to obtain data for a research thesis, specific questions should be asked to target what the researcher is looking for. A researcher only interested in analysing the speech of an individual, needs to ask questions that will make the individual being researched more relaxed, to try and get their natural speech. The researcher should have all the interviewees repeat the same words or sentences if a comparison is being made between their speech. When conducting the interviews, video recording are more efficient. This is because a video recording and show the individual's body movements and facial expression when they speak. It is easier for the researcher to go over the data, because the visual aid helps to analyse the speech in a more effective way

The perception of speech is considered a widely researched area. These areas include phonetics, cognitive science speech science and many more. According to David B. Pisoni, speech perception needs to be examined from different angles, and with different research methods.

In the article "Effect of voice Quality on Perceived Height of English Vowels" the authors demonstrates how to break down a person speech, mapping it into graphs. A person's speech can be represented on a graph that will show the frequency range of their voice and their vocal pitch, sound intensity and the speaker's tone. In analysing the student's speech, graphs is essential in showing how the students voice differ, and how they are similar. They can map and show exact points in an individual's speech where there was a higher vocal tone or pitch, or stress on a specific syllable or word.

Examining several studies on accent, vowel and syllable stress, gives examples of methods to

follow when examining the student's speech. Studies by San Duanmu and Andrew J. Lotto,

shows how different environments and emotional conditions can lead to changes in someone's speech. These studies show as well how these methods can be compared between individuals tested.


In order to determine what people thought about the existence of an accent at the Saint Augustine Girls High School, two villagers living close to the school were interviewed. They were asked whether they thought SAGHS students had an accent and furthermore invited to imitate that said accent.

The first villager, an elderly woman answered the first question with the affirmative. When she was asked to imitate how the girls spoke she said that the girls "call god name every time." She clarified that by stating that the girls use a particular phrase, "Oh meh God." When she imitated this phrase there was a noticeable change in the height of pitch, of her voice. When asked if the girls, speak in a high-pitched voice, she responded with "yea they doh talk natural." This suggests that the information has an internal standard for the sound of "natural speaking". When asked in a comparison between her speech and the student's speech she stated that the students tone had a higher tone. The recognition of higher tone in speaking fits into the hearsay theory that students of the school speak with an accent.

The second informant provided more details about the girls' speech. According to her, there is indeed a school accent and she proceeded without further prompting to imitate it. Unlike the other villager, who only imitated how the students spoke and provided a particular phrase they used, this woman attempted to mimic the girls' conversation. When attempting mimicry of the girls' conversation, the woman produced the exact words of the conversation and how they were produced in relation tone and pitch.

There was a noticeable change in the tone of her voice when she began to mimic the students' conversation. There were more noticeable intonations on words such as "my" "gosh" and "fine," compared to the way the woman was pronouncing these words before she began mincing. In addition the overall pitch of her voice became consistently higher when she began mimicking the students returned to its normal level only when she finished the imitation. Corroborating her intuitive pitch rise, the villager stated explicitly that "they [the girls] have these high-pitch things." When she attempted to imitate this, again, a noticeable difference in the height of her pitch could be heard. The villager went further and said that she "doesn't think so, she knows so" in relation to the girls having an accent. When asked if she could identify a SAGHS girl outside of her uniform, she responded with "I would be able to identify them because of their accent." She reinforced this with the conversation she overheard from a group of girls who were leaving the school after lessons. She made it very clear that she was very sure of the existence of an accent and was able to reinforce what she said, by giving examples of phrases.

The perception that the Saint Augustine Girls High School as a prestige school is associated with its own accent may simply be a stereotypical view of people who associate prestige with accent. The features identified by the two villagers, high pitch voice, and stress of specific words are the stereotypical features that people from outside the school associate with the students.

To better understand the differences in the pitch of the second villager's speech, her imitation of the student's accent, was plotted into a frequency spectrum graph to dEmonstrate the pitch of her voice, when imitating the students.

Figure 1 illustrates twelve seconds of the villager's speech, two seconds before her imitation of the students', 10 seconds of the students' speech, and two seconds after she finishes her imitation. The pitch of the villager's regular voice is marked with black circles on the graph, while the pitch change associated with the imitation is highlighted by red circles.

C:\Users\Stephan\Pictures\Villager one graph.jpg

Figure 1

Figure 1 shows a noticeable difference in pitch between the informant's normal speech and her imitation of the girls' accent.

Figure 1.1 represents the entire conversation between the researcher and the second informant in wave forms. The two instances where the villager imitated the students' speech, is represented by two white dots. The diagram in Figure 1.1 clearly shows differences in the villager's normal voice and the pitch it assumes when imitating the students.

C:\Users\Stephan\Pictures\raw datad.png

Figure 1.1

In Figure 1.1 a steady stream of waves are seen being produced by both the researcher and villager. However distinct differences in wave patterns are seen because of the imitation of the students' speech. On two separate occasions when the second woman imitated the girls' speech her voice was amplified, causing her to speak with a higher pitch.

An analysis the feature's of imitated speech provided be the two informants shows a number of salient features in the perception of the Saint Augustine students.- These features includes an overall higher pitch and intonations, while speaking.


The Princess Clique is perhaps the most well known Clique within the Saint Augustine Girls High School. They are considered the "elites" because of their social status. They distinguish themselves by speaking differently from other Cliques and by having different style in clothes and music that only they, consider to be fashionable and popular.

At the very beginning of this interviewee's speech, stress on words and syllable were very consistent. On average four out every five words she uttered, four of them were stressed very heavily. There were a noticeable number of intonations on utterances that she produced, for example, the utterance "well you know how" contained an average of four intonations

Figure 1.2 is a spectrum graph of the student's speech. It allows us to identify the average pitch of her voice.


Figure 1.2

The graph in Figure 1.2 represents the height in pitch, of this particular student. When compared to that of the attempted imitation of the villager's accent, some similarities was found.

Figure 1.3 shows a comparison between the attempted villager's accent of the students and the natural speech of a member of the Princess Clique. The diagram on the left shows the villager mimicking the student's accent and the diagram on the right shows the natural speech of a member of the Princess Clique.

C:\Users\Stephan\Downloads\princess comparison3.jpg

Figure 1.3

One of the most noticeable similarities between the two samples of speech is the height in pitch and the intensity difference from the student compared to the villager. A common decibel number must be established from both these samples in order to examine the difference in the pitch of their speech. This common number is "-48dB" which can be seen on both the diagrams in Figure 1.3. The important difference between these two is where "-48dB" is located in each graph. In the villager's imitation of the accent, "-48dB" is close to the peak, or height of her imitation of the accent.

There is also a difference in frequency in which the sound was produced. Looking at the high frequencies, e.g. 10.000 Hz, the graph shows that the woman amplifies this frequency by about -66dB, the girl by almost -42dB; it is thus more prominent in the girl's speech.

The villager's pitch reached -39dB on the graph and the student reached -24dB, but because the graph is plotted with a "minus", associated with the "dB" the villager's -39dB, is considered the reference point for both, and the student is 24dB below it. The student is (39-24) which make the student 15dB louder that the villager. This is how the graph is able to show how one has a higher volume and pitch that the other.

The graph that represent the Clique member from the Princess group shows that "-48dB" is below the half mark on vertical axis. This means that there is a significant high pitch, or high sound intensity from the Princess Clique member. 'While the villager's imitation did not fully correspond to the girl's speech, it exhibits the same principal feature of increased pitch.

(The villager did state that the students had "these high pitch things," which suggests that she was referring to something similar to what the Princess Clique member produced. Even though the villager was not able to match the student's pitch, her description and example of the students' accent fits into the pitch demonstrated by the Princess Clique member.)

Another Salient feature that could be detected in the speech of the Princess Clique but did not form part of the imitation, is the consistent stress on the last syllables of words. Figure 1.4 is a Standard Autocorrelation algorithm graph, on which word-final stress can be plotted.

The Standard Autocorrelation algorithm graph was automatically plotted by the program used and incorporated the neutral zero and the height in stress mapped using both the minus and plus of the graph.


Figure 1.4

Figure 1.4 is the representation of the word "central" produced by the Princess Clique member. This graph moves right to left showing the pitch in speech of the first syllable, and then dipping for a very brief pause between syllables (hardly noticeable to the ear) and finally showing the height of the stress of the last syllable. (This is how the program mapped it) These features of the student's speech can be found in the villager's imitation of the accent.

When this student was asked if she thought that SAGHS girls have a particular accent, she responded "you mean like inside the school, or outside". She explained that she perceives a difference in how the girls express themselves, inside the school and outside of it. While at school, they use one way of speech, but outside of it, they alter their diction to "speak better." The informant mentioned the type of interlocutor as a further influencing factor for the type of speech employed. She mentioned as well that the different Cliques within the school have their own way of speaking. She went on to state that is common for Cliques, or student to alter their speech. This is done specifically outside of the school, to "make the school look good". Students will change their speech if they are talking to someone of higher authority, example the principal.

Table iv represents the features of the accent of the interviewed member of the Princess Clique. It returns at the end of each Clique's analusis, providing a cumulative summary of the phonetic features- active in the accent of each clique.



spectrum graph (dB)

Princess Clique

Very high pitch, (lots of intonations) and end syllable stress, or word final stress


Figure 1.5

(dB represent the height of a speech sound, where the lower dB number means a higher pitch sound and a higher dB number represents a lower pitch)


The Rock Clique at the Saint Augustine Girls High School is known for their energy and boldness in speaking - The speech of the Rock Clique member that was interviewed for this study was relaxed and natural. Impressionistic evidence suggests that the pitch of her voice did not sound high but would only occasionally increase when she laughed or placed emphasis on a particular word. A steady tone was noticed when the student spoke, with very little intonations on her utterances and very little syllable stress. Figure 1.6 represents the highest pitch produced by the Rock Clique student's speech, on a frequency spectrum graph.


Figure 1.6

In Figure 1.6 the student produces a "-33dB". The Princess Clique member's dB was -24dB. This is a big difference in loudness between the Princess Clique member and the Rock Clique member.

The stress on specific words compared to the Princess and Rock Clique members are different. While both the Princess and Rock Clique's member's demonstrate a stress on the last syllable, the Princess's stress is higher than the Rock clique member.

Figure 1.7 represents the highest stress on a syllable from the word was "Curepe" by the Rock Clique member.

C:\Users\Stephan\Pictures\rock syllable.jpg

Figure 1.7

The highest point mapped on the Standard Autocorrelation algorithm graph for the Rock member's stress on a syllable is just over a 100. The Princess Clique' member, on the other hand, produced word-final stress at 150. There are, once again, significant differences in their accent. With very little similarities in their pitch, intonations and stress, it is unlikely that a specific uniform accent characterizes these two groups.

Confirming the Princess Clique member' intuition, the Rock Clique member stated that the various Cliques speak differently, - but that they adapt their accent depending on their interlocutors or when outside the school. From what she said, the way she would speak, would give people the perception that she has a uniform based accent, when she is indeed wilfully changing her speech to suit her audience. Figure 1.8 summarises the speech features of the Princess Clique and the Rock Clique member.



Spectrum Graph (dB)

Princess Clique

Very high pitch, lots of intonations and end syllable stress.


Rock Clique

Very little high pitch sounds, little intonations and syllable stress


Figure 1.8

(dB represent the height of a speech sound, where the lower dB number means a higher pitch and a higher dB number represents a lower pitch)


The Emo Clique Saint Augustine is considered an isolated group. Students only speak to Emos if they need to. The word Emo is an abbreviation for Emotional hardcore, which means the ability to feel and control pain and emotions in general.

The Emo Clique student that I interviewed spoke in a -very low tone. She showed no signs of increasing, or varying her pitch, or placing emphasis on any particular word or stress on any specific syllable, making her speech sound monotonously. She maintained a low tone throughout the entire interview. Her prosody did not exhibit similarities to the villagers' speech or to that of her fellow non-Emo students- The Emo student stated that this is the why she speaks to anyone, so there is no alteration in speech.

Figure 1.9 is a representation of the conversation between the researcher and the Emo Clique member in its entirety. The conversation is represented in a voice-to-wave equivalency, in which two sets of dots, red and blue ones, are inserted. The red dot corresponds to the sound produced by the researcher, and the black dots represent the sound produced by the Emo Clique member. The graph clearly shows that the Emo student has a very low pitch of voice. Another intriguing feature of her prosody is that she produced short, staccato sentences, (in short bursts of sounds and short sentences)


Figure 1.9

When the Emo student is compared to that of members of different Cliques, the pitch of her voice differs considerably from that of the other cliques as well as that of the villagers. Figure 2 represents three seconds of the Emo Clique' member's voice on a frequency spectrum graph.

C:\Users\Stephan\Pictures\Uemo sped.jpg

Figure 2

The highest pitch produced by the Emo Clique member is "-42dB" and the lowest pitch is "-87dB" which is the lowest pitch produced between the Emo, Princess and Rock Clique. In figure 2.1 a comparison of the Emo Clique member's speech, with that of the Princess Clique's member speech' is provided using sound-to-wave analysis.

C:\Users\Stephan\Pictures\emo princessd.jpg

Figure 2.1

Figure 2.1 is divided into two sound-to-wave diagrams. The first represents the speech of the Emo Clique member, marked with a red dot, while the second shows the speech of the Princess Clique member marked with a white dot. It is important to note that in the speech of the Princess Clique member the solid light blue line at "-0.0-" indicates high level of background noise. When these two graphs are compared, a clear difference in pitch can be seen. The difference in their speech can be seen in Figure 2.2 which summarises the speech features of the Princess, Rock, and Emo Clique members.


Speech Features

Spectrum Graph (dB) Highest Point

Princess Clique

Very high pitch sound, lots of intonations and end syllable stress.


Rock Clique

Very little high pitch sounds, little intonations and syllable stress


Emo Clique

Consistent low tones in sounds, very little or no intonation and syllable stress


Figure 2.2

(dB represent the height of a speech sound, where the lower dB number means a higher pitch and a higher dB number represents a lower pitch)


The Punk Clique is known as the clique seconded to the Princess clique. Both Cliques share similarities in style and music. The Punk Clique is generally formed by students who did not fit within the Princess Clique's requirements. The Punk Clique is considered a rival clique towards the Princess Clique

Similar to the Princess Clique' member, the Punk Clique' member that I recorded was very energetic in her speech. The researcher's first impression of her voice was that it had a decisively high pitch and that she regularly stressed on the last syllables of words. On average three out of every five words she produced, had heavy word-final stress.

To represent the pitch of this Punk Clique' member's voice, five seconds of her speech were recorded on a frequency spectrum graph. Due to the background noise, however, her speech had to be filtered through a noise reduction filter, to produce a more accurate picture of her speech. Figure 2.3 is a representation of the Punk Clique' member's speech.


Figure 2.3

The highest point of pitch in Figure 2.3 is "-24dB" which is the same as what was received by the Princess Clique member. Figure 2.4 is a Standard Autocorrelation algorithm graph which represents the stress of a word, and that word's last syllable.

When asked the question of residence, both the Princess and Punk Clique members answered "central" to the same question. This word (central) was used to examine the level of stress on the last syllable, between these two groups because they used the exact word.

C:\Users\Stephan\Pictures\UntPunk central.jpg

Figure 2.4

In Figure 2.4 the Punk Clique's member receives a score of 140 on the Standard Autocorrelation algorithm graph. The graph shows that there are very small fluctuations of her voice before she produces the last syllable, but the height of the stress on the last syllable is very high.

Figure 2.5 compares the stress on the last syllable of the word "central" between the Princess and Punk Clique member.

C:\Users\Stephan\Downloads\punk vs princess1.jpg

Figure 2.5

Figure 2.5 shows the height of both the Princess and the Punk Clique member's word pronunciation. The graph to the far left illustrates the Princess clique member's pronunciation of the word central and the graph to the far right illustrates the Punk Clique's pronunciation of the word central. Both of these graphs show almost the same height by the Princess and Punk Clique members. The Princess has a score of "150" and the Punk has a score of "140" on stressed last syllable of the word "central" These two groups share similar traits in speaking. The second villager's imitation of the SAGHS falls closer to these group members than that of the Rock or Emo.

(dB represent the height of a speech sound, where the lower dB number means a higher pitch in sound and a higher dB number represents a lower pitch in sound)


The gangster Clique is known for their laid back and "carefree" way of talking. The Clique member that represented the gangster Clique stated that she was of the group "changster" which is a Chinese gangster.

This student's speech could be distinguished from the rest of students, not because of her tone in speaking, but because of the word and phrases she used. There was some use of intonations and syllable stress, but no consistency of a high pitch tone while speaking. On a few occasions a higher pitch in her speaking was observed, but this was only done with words that she was emphasizing while thinking. For example she stressed on "ahh" and "am" because she was thinking of what to say in responding to that particular question. Ten seconds of speech were plotted on the frequency spectrum graph shown n figure 2.6. The graph shows the highest pitch in her voice.


Figure 2.6

The gangster Clique's member's speech appears to be similar to that of the Rock Clique member's speech. The Rock Clique member's highest pitch was of -33dB, and the gangster Clique's highest pitch is -30dB. They both share the features of very little high pitch sounds, little intonations and occasional syllable stress.

Table ii showing the difference in the speech features of the Princess, Rock, Emo, Punk and gangster Clique members.


The normal Clique is classified by students who think that they are normal. Their speech, ways and interests are classified as normal to the members. This clique is classified by students who show no interest to fit and be part of other cliques.

One of the most noticeable features in the clique's member's speech is the speed at which she produces her words, but at times she would slow it down. This is significant because the variation of speed in one's speech may lead to a higher tone or pitch, because of the rapid change in sound while speaking. There is little presence of intonations, and words being stressed on the last syllable with the student's speech.

Figure 2.8 represents ten seconds of speech, containing the highest pitch, plotted into a frequency spectrum graph.


Figure 2.8

The normal Clique's member's highest pitch is the same as the gangster Clique's pitch. They both produced an average vocal pitch at, -30dB. It is important to note that this does not mean that the students speak identically. This measurement simply shows the single, highest pitch that was produced during the student's speech.

The speech features between the normal Clique member and the gangster Clique member are very alike. One again this does not mean that they speak identical, but share similar traits in the way they speak. It is difficult to determine how identical their speech is, because of different recording conditions.

Table iii shows the difference in the speech features of the Princess, Rock, Emo, Punk, gangster and normal Clique members.


My research suggest that the majority of the cliques at the Saint Augustine Girls High School speak differently. Each clique demonstrated their own unique style in speaking, with similarities in vocal pitch and differences in syllable stress and volume height. If each clique speaks differently, then there appears to be no existence of a uniform school based accent.

The expectations of this project as expressed in the thesis was a very unique one. It is perceived by villagers living close to the school, that the Saint Augustine girls, have an accent. Some of these features could be identified with the different cliques, but there were differences in the different cliques speech.

Compared to similar studies by, Andrew J Lotto, Lori L. Holt, and Keith Kluender they were different. This was because their study incorporated males, quiet backgrounds for their recordings and specific words to pronounce.

The research methods had to be continuously altered, because of the constant decrease of participants for the study. This was a major problem because only six individuals were interviewed, but the starting number was average at twenty.

There is one main unsettled point that needs to be pointed out. Four of the Six girls stated that they think that SAGHS girls have an accent. Two of those students said that student's change their speech outside of the school to make the school look better. If this is the case, then what people may perceive as a uniformed accent associated with the school, is an attempt by the students to speak better outside the school.


From the research conducted and the evidence gathered, there is not much evidence to support the existence of a uniform school based accent. The data shows that the different cliques within the school speak differently with few similarities.

The possibility remains unsolved that the students of the school intentionally alter their speech which may lead people from outside the school, to interpret it as an accent.


This study attempted to investigate the existence of a uniformed school based accent at the Saint Augustine Girls High School. It is recommended that a future study in examining the existence of a school based accent in prestige school, needs to have a greater sample. This sample size should be at least three members from each clique. They should all be together in one room discussing different topics; this way it is easier to examine the similarities and differences in their speech.

When perusing this topic it is important that full permission to conduct research on the school compound is granted. If the research has to be conducted outside of the school compound, then it becomes harder to find students to participate in the study and to get them all together at the same time.

When recording speech it is very important that it is recorded in the most quiet environment possible. A background with heavy noise will increase the amount time it takes to analyse the data, because the background sound needs to be edited out.

If similarities and differences are being compared in different students, then one should have those students repeat the same words or sentences. This way the researcher can show the similarities and differences of pronunciation and vocal pitch using a common item used by all the students.