Selected Papers from NWAV 49

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  • Publication
    The Development of Indexicality: Perceptual evidence from 4- to 18-year-olds
    (2022-09-19) Vaughn, Charlotte; Becker, Kara
    Despite the importance of the pre-adult developmental period to sociolinguistic theory (Labov 1972, Eckert 2000), children and teens remain understudied when it comes to understanding how indexicality develops. The present study seeks to bring the existing scholarship on child and teen evaluation of language varieties into a clearer dialogue with contemporary theories of indexicality focusing on the social meaning of individual variables. We conducted a matched guise task with listeners from age groups across the lifespan. From a larger dataset, we focus here on comparing the status ratings of adult listeners with those of children and teens, for six American English sociolinguistic variables. Listeners heard short audio stimuli containing unmarked or marked variants and were asked “Do you think this person would be a good teacher?”. Our results show that listeners as young as 4 years old can differentiate variants for status, and that teenagers aged 13-18 tend to pattern with adults in rating unmarked variants more positively for status. In addition, we identify a range of developmental patterns across variables: some, like creaky voice and /r/-insertion, show a unidirectional pattern, suggesting a linear development of status differentiation. For other variables, only listeners in middle childhood differ significantly from adults – for example, 10-12 year olds do not differentiate (ING) variants for status – highlighting the need for further research exploring the social meanings of variants in this developmental period in particular. Finally, 4-6 year olds differed from adults most often, but in varied ways, highlighting this period as one of transitions in which children begin to shift from a caregiver model to a peer-oriented one. In all, the results serve to bolster our call for increased attention to the indexical systems of children and teens, whose rich social-semiotic landscapes deserve further study.
  • Publication
    Hearing Hebrew Pharyngeals: Experimental evidence for a covert phonemic distinction
    (2022-09-19) Berrebi, Si; Bassel, Noa; Gafter, Roey J
    We report a lexical decision task experiment, in which words were manipulated such that two different sounds had been switched with each other: the voiceless pharyngeal and uvular fricatives. The former is a marked sound of some dialects of Modern Hebrew, the latter is a merged category corresponding to both the historical pharyngeal and the uvular in the production of most speakers. The two categories are represented by different letters in the orthographic system and each is associated with unique phonological processes. Socially, the pharyngeal is stereotyped; merging the categories is both more common and more prestigious in most social contexts. Speakers of Modern Hebrew with varied linguistic backgrounds, including Merged speakers who have not been exposed to non-merged dialects during most of their lives, are very good at acoustically distinguishing between these sounds (only slightly underperforming compared with Non-merged speakers). Nevertheless, we found that manipulated stimuli - which were not part of the input for language learners of either dialect - provoke different acceptance rates and reaction times, depending on the listener's home dialect, in certain cases regardless of their production grammar. In particular, Non-merged speakers and Merged speakers who are 2nd generation listeners to non-merged dialects rejected switched category items at much higher rates and took longer to process them compared with Merged speakers who did not have early experience with the categorical distinction. We discuss these findings in the context of models of phonological representation and auditory word recognition.
  • Publication
    Creaky, She Spoke: Examining f0, Vocal Creak, and Perceptions of Young Women’s Professionalism
    (2022-09-19) Conner, Katie A
    Recent sociolinguistic work on creak (also known as vocal fry, vocal creak, and creaky voice) has generally focused on its gendered use and perceptions, and more specifically on creak and young women. While Yuasa (2010) found creaky young women to be perceived as “educated, professional, and upwardly mobile” (p.316) sounding, Anderson et al. (2014) and Gallino and Pinto (2021) found the opposite in that creaky young women were perceived to be “less competent, less educated, less trustworthy, less attractive, and less hireable” (p.5). However, all of these works consider creak in isolation, eschewing analyses that examine creak in tandem with other linguistic variables. As voices are perceived as a whole unit, and not singular linguistic features, this leads to an incomplete understanding of the ways in which listeners might perceive creak differently when it is paired with other features such as f0, prosody, and phonetic variation related to dialect, etc. Work examining creak interacting with other linguistic features will provide better understanding for how, when, and why creak is perceived in specific ways by listeners. This study interrogates whether there is an interaction between f0 and creak that might affect professionalism perceptions of speakers and, additionally, how a listeners’ speech attitudes about women and creak might mediate f0 and creak’s effects on professionalism ratings. 125 participants rated stimuli produced by five young white women from the Midland region sourced from the Nationwide Speech Project corpus (Clopper and Pisoni 2004) on six Likert scales: professional, attractive, friendly, feminine, educated, and authoritative. Additionally, participants completed a set of workplace and women’s speech attitudes Likert scale measures (e.g., “to be successful in the workplace, young women should change how they speak to sound more professional”). The presence of creak in stimuli was determined via impressionistic listening and examining spectrograms in Praat. Factor analysis showed that ratings for the six traits patterned into two factors: “Competence” and “Warmth”. These two factors were used as dependent measures in linear mixed effects regression models, with average ratings for both factors as the dependent variables. The Competence model included main effects for Workplace Sexism attitudes (p<.001) and f0 (p<.01), but failed to reproduce findings from the aforementioned previous studies with regards to creak. This study supports previous work by Parker and Borie (2017) that calls for more nuanced and complex analyses of creak moving forward, and the need to move beyond attempting to examine creak as a variable in isolation. It also points to the possibility that the indeterminacy of previous findings on creak and social meaning can be attributed, in part, to differences in experimental design.
  • Publication
    Topic- and Stance-based Style Shift of North Korean Speakers Living in South Korea
    (2022-09-19) Lee, Jungah; Idemaru, Kaori; Vaughn, Charlotte
    We investigate to what extent North Korean refugee (NK) speakers shift their stop production across topic and stance in conversational speech. The twenty-two NK speakers (F:16, M:6) were engaged in a sociolinguistic interview. A total of 5042 stops were identified and analyzed for VOT and F0 in the following vowel. Stops in the sociolinguistic interview data were coded for topic-stance: contingent upon the topic, North (NK) or South Korean (SK) related topics, they responded with a positive, negative, or neutral stance. Based on previous findings, we predicted that NK speakers would produce more SK-like stops when speaking about South Korea with a positive stance (Nycz 2018). Results of mixed-effects models showed that the NK speakers produced more SK-like stops in terms of VOT when talking about NK and SK topics with emotional stance (negative and positive). This is inconsistent with the idea that speaking about the second dialect region with a positive stance typically results in more second dialect-like speech (Nycz 2018). Unlike the VOT results, the NK F0 patterns were consistent across topic-stance. We interpreted that the consistent F0 patterns might be due to prosodic mitigation (Idemaru et al. 2019, Hübscher et al. 2017). Given that speakers tend not to fluctuate F0 in polite speech, the NK speakers might also try to speak more politely because the NK speakers communicated with an unfamiliar SK interviewer (the first author), using honorific speech forms. Taken together, the findings show NK speakers' mixed pattern of stop productions across topic-stance. Effects of interlocutor and speech address form can be examined in order to further shed light on the complex pattern in a future study.
  • Publication
    Towards an Empirically-based Model of Age-graded Behaviour: Trac(ing) linguistic malleability across the entire adult life-span
    (2022-09-19) Mechler, Johanna; Grama, James; Bauernfeind, Lea; Eiswirth, Mirjam; Buchstaller, Isabelle
    Previous panel research has provided individual evidence for aspects of the U-shaped pattern, but these studies typically rely on sampling the same speaker at two points in time, usually in close proximity. As a result, our knowledge about the patterning of age-graded variables across the entire adult life-span is limited. What is needed, thus, is a data-set that captures ongoing linguistic malleability in the individual speaker across all “life experiences that give age meaning” (Eckert 1997:167). Our study is the first to add real time evidence across the lifespan as a whole on an age-graded variable. We present the results of a novel dynamic data-set that allows us to model speakers’ linguistic choices between ages 19 and 78. We illustrate the age-graded patterns in our data and draw attention to the complex, socially niched ways in which speakers react to age-specific expectations.
  • Publication
    Conditioned Variation: Children Replicate Contrasts, not Parental Variant Rate
    (2022-09-19) Nowenstein, Iris E; Ingason, Anton K; Wallenberg, Joel
    One of the fundamental questions within developmental sociolinguistics, and language acquisition research more broadly, has to do with children’s reaction to variability in their input or primary linguistic data (e.g. Labov 1989, Yang 2002, Hudson Kam and Newport 2005, Smith et al. 2009, Cournane and Pérez-Leroux 2020). As has been extensively documented, children overgeneralize and regularize both consistent (Marcus et al. 1992) and inconsistent (Hudson Kam and Newport 2005) input. Despite this tendency to go beyond the input, we do expect children to learn their caregivers’ dialect, and they have in fact been known to match the rates of variation found in their environment (Labov 1989, Johnson and White 2019). The literature therefore shows both regularization and matching, but under different circumstances. In this paper, we argue for a third scenario and present a case where children neither regularize nor match their caregiver. Instead, they replicate the systematic contrasts they encounter and regularize within matched conditions. This is what happens in the acquisition of Icelandic Dative Substitution (DS), a stigmatized but widespread instance of grammatically conditioned morphosyntactic variation. We investigated DS in 99 children aged 3–13 and their caregivers (80 dyads) by using forced-choice tasks and grammaticality judgments across multiple items as a proxy for case use. The results show that caregivers’ general DS rate did not predict the rate at which their children selected DS, regardless of age. On the other hand, when analyzing the data within conditioning factors, we found that children replicate the contrasts present in their caregivers’ speech, both at the group and individual level, and that this was in part dependent on age.
  • Publication
    Multiple Social Routes: Connecting Stance Accretion to Aggregate Variation
    (2022-09-19) Forrest, Jon
    Connecting individual-level stylizations to group patterns is a central concern of sociolinguistics (Eckert 2008, Labov 1963). One proposed route is through a process of accretion, where linguistic features used for stances like “toughness” or “friendliness” accrue over time to the identities of the speakers who use them, gaining higher-order indexical associations with group identities like “working class” or “Southern” (Eckert 2008). To test the hypothesis of stance accretion, this paper uses data from speakers from a single workplace in the U.S. South, where Southern features are currently receding. The overarching question is whether stance-level deployments of Southern linguistic features align with aggregate-level patterns. The dataset for this analysis is drawn from self-recorded audio collected by 16 workers of varying occupational levels at Southern Tech, a technology firm in the greater Raleigh, NC area. To gather audio data, each participant wore a recorder during their normal workday, resulting in a minimum of one hour of conversational data at work, as well as a minimum of one hour of conversational data from a casual setting. Acoustic analyses were conducted on vowels implicated in the SVS in the aggregate. In addition, three speakers with extensive self-recording data were selected to examine individuals’ token-level stylization, looking especially for statistical outliers (Van Hofwegen 2017). Aggregate-level results show that speakers who hold managerial positions within the firm show more Southern vowels, regardless of context. When looking at individuals’ highly stylized tokens, analysis shows that non-Southern vowels are deployed when speakers position themselves as professionals while in a work context. Southern vowels are deployed to indicate stances of friendliness in all recording contexts, but these never occur in interactions where authority or professionalism are required. These results suggest that indexical associations between the SVS and friendliness and professionalism may be driven by stance, but other local meanings, like managerial status at the firm, are not. Associations between Southern vowels and managerial positions may instead result from organizational-level practices (Rivera 2012), rather than stance-driven interactions. Implications are discussed for the mechanisms of maintenance and change for community-level patterns of social class.
  • Publication
    Sociolinguistic Factors of Mandarin-English Codeswitching: Language Attitudes, Age, and Other Factors Used for Computational Modeling
    (2022-09-19) Yi, Irene
    This paper explores the sociolinguistic predictors of Mandarin-English codeswitching, and also tests such patterns against current syntactic constraints of codeswitching. By doing so, I demonstrate the value of incorporating sociolinguistic factors as predictors into computational models of codeswitching, explored in a companion paper (Yi 2022). The study presented here draws from novel data collected from 12 Mandarin-English bilingual speakers from Grand Rapids, Michigan. These speakers come from two generations, correlated with their age and immigration history. Speakers participated in sociolinguistic interviews that were designed to elicit codeswitching in narrative-style responses on a variety of topics, including family, school, and culture. Participants also answered metalinguistic questions about their own language practices and attitudes and completed a written Language History Questionnaire (LHQ) (Li et al. 2020), which asked for self-evaluations of language habits (proficiency, immersion, and dominance in the two languages). LHQ responses were then quantified into “scores” that served as sociolinguistic predictors for the companion paper (Yi 2022). Patterns found in this novel Mandarin-English data frequently, and potentially systematically, violate many of the currently proposed syntactic constraints on codeswitching (which mainly come from research on Spanish-English bilinguals), implying that the constraints may not be universal, and that new avenues should be considered for understanding the morphosyntax of bilingual codeswitching.
  • Publication
    Order of Operations in Sociophonetic Analysis
    (2022-09-19) Stanley, Joseph A
    Recent sociophonetic analysis typically involves a pipeline of procedures to turn a spreadsheet of formant measurements into interpretable numbers and figures. However, little has been said about the order that these procedures should be applied. To explore the effect that order of operations has on sociophonetic analysis, a dataset containing formant measurements from 53 speakers was analyzed 5,040 different ways, each representing a different permutation of seven common steps in the analysis pipeline. The Low Back Merger and the Low-Back-Merger Shift were examined in these 53 speakers using three different metrics. The results indicate that changing the order of operations produces variation similar in magnitude to sociolinguistically meaningful variation and can influence the interpretation of any one speaker’s data and the entire dataset. This paper concludes with a recommended order that researchers can use in their analyses: classify allophones, remove outliers, normalize, and then subset.
  • Publication
    (2022-09-19) Li, Aini; Hildebrandt, Gwendolyn
    The University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics (PWPL) is an occasional series published by the Penn Graduate Linguistics Society. The series has included volumes of previously unpublished work, or work in progress, by linguists with an ongoing affiliation with the Department, as well as volumes of papers from NWAV and the Penn Linguistics Conference. This volume contains selected papers from New Ways of Analyzing Variation 49 (NWAV 49), held virtually October 19-24, 2021, by the University of Texas at Austin. Thanks go to George Balabanian, May Pikyu Chan, Yiran Chen, Xin Gao, Karen Li, Lefteris Paparounas, and Christine Soh Yue for their help in editing. Since Vol. 14.2, PWPL has been an internet-only publication. As of September 2014, the entire back catalog has been digitized and made available on ScholarlyCommons@Penn. Please continue citing PWPL papers or issues as you would a print journal article, though you may also provide the URL of the manuscript. An example is below: Legerme, Christopher. 2022. The Effect of Vowel Height on the Nasalization of Postponed Determiners in Haitian Creole (Kreyòl Ayisyen). In University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics 28.2, ed. Aini Li and Gwendolyn Hildebrandt, 71-80. Available at: Publication in the University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics (PWPL) does not preclude submission of papers elsewhere; copyright is retained by the author(s) of individual papers. The PWPL editors can be contacted at: U. Penn Working Papers in Linguistics, Department of Linguistics, 3401-C Walnut Street, Suite 300, C Wing, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6228 and Aini Li and Gwendolyn Hildebrandt, Issue Editors