Selected Papers from New Ways of Analyzing Variation (NWAV) 43

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  • Publication
    A Convergence of Dialects in the St. Louis Corridor
    (2015-10-01) Friedman, Lauren A.
    In the study of dialect geography, boundaries of many types appear at the edges of dialects (ANAE, Dinkin 2013). However, the disruption of a dialect boundary at a single point by a non-linguistic change does not necessarily change the dialect boundary but creates a new type. The present study examines the influence of the Inland North dialect on the St. Louis Corridor, a geographically Midland area located between Chicago and St. Louis across the state of Illinois. The Corridor is also the home of Route 66, which in 1926 was the first paved highway in Illinois. In analyzing data from original interviews, the Atlas of North American English (Labov, Ash, and Boberg 2006), and archival resources (Wood 1996), I situate the Inland North influence in time, namely for those born in the 1920’s through 1940’s. Based on corroborating evidence from population statistics, traffic patterns, and the history of Route 66, I demonstrate a timeline for Inland North influence and how it interacts with the Midland features. I also show that the Inland North influence rises and retreats alongside a major change in transportation patterns from water to land (cf. Trudgill 1974 for a similar dialectal change). Based upon the distinctions between the findings in this study and other situations of dialect boundaries, I propose a new boundary type: a dialect “breach.”
  • Publication
    Reversal of the Northern Cities Shift in Syracuse, New York
    (2015-10-01) Driscoll, Anna; Lape, Emma
    Labov, Yaeger and Steiner (1972) describe the Northern Cities Shift (NCS), a chain shift involving the six lax vowels /ae/, /o/, /oh/, /e/, /uh/, and /ih/, in Upstate New York. We recorded 54 interviews with local speakers (ages 18-89) and extracted 14,026 tokens using FAVE (Rosenfelder et al. 2011), which we normalized in R using the Lobanov method (Kendall & Thomas 2010). Our study finds that, while the NCS is clearly present in the area, the shift is sharply reversing in Syracuse: five of the six classic NCS shifts are reversing among younger speakers. This study makes a unique contribution to NCS research by demonstrating reversal of the shift in apparent time from Syracuse, New York. Our study shows how the different cohorts of a large speech community are all following their age-appropriate vectors of change, resulting in a major reversal of a chain shift.
  • Publication
    Multiple Mergers: Production and Perception of Three Pre-/l/ Mergers in Youngstown, Ohio
    (2015-10-01) Arnold, Lacey
    Mergers have been a much-researched topic in sociolinguistics (e.g., Baranowski 2013, Thomas and Hay 2005, Hall-Lew 2013), including in pre-lateral contexts (Bowie 2000, Faber & Di Paolo 1995, Thomas 2001). However, aside from Thomas and Bailey’s (1992) study on “competing mergers” in Texas, little work has been done on the interaction among several mergers involving some of the same phonemes and occurring in the same contexts when they coexist in a given community. Even less research has addressed the role of perception in competing-merger contexts. This study examines the status of mergers among /ul/, /ol/, and /Ul/ in Youngstown, Ohio. Although at least three forms of the merger have been cited in this community—/ul/-/Ul/, /ol/-/Ul/, and /ul/-/ol/-/Ul/—not all speakers in the community are merged, and those who are merged do not all merge the same phonemes. Using acoustic analyses and multiple-forced-choice perception task results from 26 speakers from the Youngstown area ranging from ages 9-81, this project examines 1) whether these mergers are all progressing in production and/or perception (and at the same rate) in this region and whether production directly correlates with perception, 2) whether they are motivated by the same internal linguistic forces, 3) how the presence of multiple patterns of pre-/l/ merger affects both the realizations and progression of these variants in the community, and 4) whether there is evidence to suggest that alternative patterns of distinction are maintained in cases of qualitatively merged vowels. Acoustic analyses of F1 and F2 measured 25% into the vowel-liquid sequence, as well as multivariate statistical analyses, suggest that the /ol/-/Ul/ merger is progressing in apparent time, mainly with respect to F1, while the /ul/-/Ul/ merger is remaining relatively steady. Additionally, the /ul/-/Ul/ merger appears to exhibit features unique to Youngstown in that it is realized more closely to /ul/, unlike what has been typically described of this merger throughout the United States (Labov, Ash and Boberg 2006). Triple mergers, on the other hand, are so scarce in the community that generalizations about the merger’s progression cannot be made. However, those who are triple merged realize the merger closer to /Ul/ than those merged only between /ol/ and /Ul/ or /ul/ and /Ul/. Initial analysis of perception data suggests that production does not directly correlate with perception, perhaps as a result of exposure to multiple patterns of merger. Though this region does not show a simultaneous progression of the three “competing mergers,” it does exhibit considerable inter-speaker variation that, though puzzling, allows for another angle from which to examine sound change.
  • Publication
    Public Legacies: Spanish-English (In)authenticity in the Linguistic Landscape of Pilsen, Chicago
    (2015-10-01) Lyons, Kate; Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso
    The present study examines the linguistic display of Spanish and English in Pilsen, Chicago, a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood. The space of Pilsen is characterized by its strong Latino diasporic presence (mostly from Mexico) since the 60s, but also for the increase of a white population in the last decade that has lead to a strong perception of gentrification in the neighborhood. With the aim of capturing potential gentrification effects and to empirically study the relationship between language, sign and space, we adopt Coupland’s (2012) adaptation of Goffman’s (1974) theory of frames and propose a replicable and scalar quantifiable method of frames, combining it with a qualitative analysis of space that we refer to as The Holistic Model of Frame Analysis. To this aim, we analyze 414 signs according to LANGUAGE, LOCATION (street) and FRAMES of Authentication Processes (Bucholtz and Hall 2005) (Migrant, Familial, Established and Alternative). Results show that there is a scalar relationship between frame and language: the more alternative the frame, the more English is used, whereas the use of mixed Spanish and English fluctuates between Established Community and Familial Authentication Processes. Although all frames were equally distributed in all of the main streets, the proportions of language use vary significantly. We argue that the static use of frames and dialogic relationship between languages and location are strongly linked to the social dynamics of specific areas of Pilsen, a variation that we capture using a variationist sociolinguistic approach.
  • Publication
    Perceiving Personae: Effects of Social Information on Perceptions of TRAP-backing
    (2015-10-01) D'Onofrio, Annette
    Studies have shown that perceived macro-social categories like location of origin, age and class can influence listeners’ perceptions of linguistic variables. Other work in sociolinguistics has demonstrated that variables can index multiple social meanings, often associable with personae that are more specific and complex than macro-social categories. This paper brings together these lines of inquiry, testing how persona-based social information influences linguistic expectations in a vowel categorization task. The experiment examines multiple social meanings of one sociolinguistic variable: the backing of the TRAP vowel. By virtue of its patterning in California, TRAP-backing has social meanings related to macro-social Californian location of origin, as well as to Californian social types like the Valley Girl. The feature has separately been associated with professional, formal personae. In a vowel categorization task, listeners categorized continua of ambiguous auditory words as either containing a TRAP vowel (e.g., SACK) or a LOT vowel (e.g., SOCK). Prior to the task, listeners were either told that the speaker was from California (macro-social information), the speaker had ‘been described as’ a Valley Girl, or a Business Professional (persona-based information), or they were not given any speaker information (Baseline). Listeners in both the macro-social and persona-based information conditions were more likely to respond to a given token as TRAP than listeners in the Baseline condition, indicating an expectation of TRAP-backing created by all three social meanings of the feature. The effect was strongest in the Business Professional condition overall, but when the token was particularly backed, the Business Professional effect disappeared, while a strong effect emerged in the Valley Girl condition. These findings demonstrate that persona-based information about a speaker can lead listeners to expect an associated linguistic feature as strongly, if not more strongly, than macro-social information. Crucially, the strength of the effect depends upon the phonetic manifestation of the variable, among other aspects of the speaker voice, listener background, and situational context.
  • Publication
    English Prosody and Native American Ethnic Identity
    (2015-10-01) Newmark, Kalina; Walker, Nacole; Stanford, James
    Across the continent, many Native American and Canadian First Nations people are linguistically constructing a shared ethnic identity through English dialect features. Although many tribes and regions have their own localized English features (e.g., Leap 1993, Bowie et al. 2013, Dannenberg and Wolfram 1998, Coggshall 2008), we suggest that certain features may be shared across much wider distances, particularly prosodic features. Our study is based on cultural insiders’ research, analysis, and interpretation of data recorded in Native communities on Standing Rock Reservation, Northwest Territories, Canada, and among the Native community at Dartmouth (Hanover, New Hampshire). By investigating speakers from diverse tribes and regions, we find evidence that Native identity is indexed to English prosodic features: contour pitch accent (L*+H), high-rising, mid, or high-falling terminals, lengthened utterance-final syllables, and syllable timing. In this way, modern Native Americans are using English, a foreign language, to construct a shared ethnic identity across vast distances.
  • Publication
    Uptalk in Spanish Dating Shows?
    (2015-10-01) Vergara, Daniel
    The use of uptalk or a question intonation at the end of a statement is a phenomenon that has been widely studied by linguists and gender scholars for English. However, little to no research has focused on studying this phenomenon in Spanish. By examining the discourse of the contestants of a well-known Spanish dating reality show, this study fills this gap in the research by demonstrating the existence of uptalk in Spanish. I also propose that the melodies that are associated with Spanish uptalk in the data are L* L-H% and L+H* HH%. Additionally, all of the participants that were analyzed used uptalk regardless of their gender. Nonetheless, females were the ones that use it more profusely. The use of uptalk in Spanish, like in English, served a number of discourse functions like holding the floor, showing camaraderie or softening a command. A new discourse function was also found in the data: females used uptalk for flirting during romantic interactions, a pattern that was not observed at all for men.
  • Publication
    Shtreets of Philadelphia: An Acoustic Study of /str/-retraction in a Naturalistic Speech Corpus
    (2015-10-01) Gylfadottir, Duna
    This paper examines a relatively understudied sociolinguistic variable in English, the retraction of (str) (e.g., street pronunouced as shtreet), using a corpus of Philadelphia speakers spanning more than a century of apparent time. Using automated acoustic methods on naturalistic data allowed (str)-retraction to be evaluated for 225 speakers. Center of gravity measurements for /s/ in (str) were normalized to each speaker’s sibilant space. The results show a clear trend toward retraction of (str) in apparent time, something that no study of American English (str)-retraction has demonstrated so far. Many of the speakers in the data show evidence of phonological reanalysis of /s/ in (str) as /sh/. Lastly, evidence is given that sheds light on the plausibility of competing theories of the origins of (str)-retraction, and some connections are made that allow us to make a first approach toward understanding this variable’s social evaluation in Philadelphia.
  • Publication
    Maintenance of the COT-CAUGHT Contrast Among Metro Detroit Speakers: A Multimodal Articulatory Analysis
    (2015-10-01) Havenhill, Jonathan
    While the acoustic characteristics of the Northern Cities Vowel Shift (NCVS) are well documented, research on the articulatory component of this shift is comparatively limited. This study combines acoustic, video, and ultrasound analysis to examine the productions of six Metro Detroit speakers in order to determine the relative contributions of lip configuration and tongue position to the production of fronted COT and CAUGHT. NCVS speakers are found to exhibit variation with regard to how this change is achieved articulatorily. While some speakers distinguish CAUGHT from COT with a combination of tongue position and lip rounding, others do so using either tongue position or lip rounding alone. For speakers who maintain the contrast with only one articulatory gesture, COT and CAUGHT are acoustically more similar than for speakers who use multiple gestures.
  • Publication
    The Effect of Salience on Co-variation in Brazilian Portuguese
    (2015-10-01) Oushiro, Livia; Guy, Gregory R.
    This paper analyzes cross-correlations among six variables of Brazilian Portuguese (the pronunciation of nasal /e/, coda r-retroflexion, coda r-deletion, NP agreement, 3rd person plural subject-verb agreement, and 1st person plural subject-verb agreement), with the objective of identifying constraints that promote the co-occurrence of sociolinguistic variants in individual speakers’ speech. We focus on the perspective of structural cohesion, and show that co-variability is conditioned not only by structural similarities among dependent variables (such as agreement processes or coda weakening), but also by general linguistic constraints that operate across multiple variables, such as phonic salience (Naro 1981, Scherre 1988, Naro et al. 1999). Finally, we suggest that markedness may be a more general linguistic principle underlying co-variation.