Selected Papers from New Ways of Analyzing Variation (NWAV 48)

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 17
  • Publication
    On Functional Load and its Relation to the Actuation Problem
    (2020-01-01) Ceolin, Andrea
    There have been many attempts to address the actuation problem using interspeaker variation (Baker et al. 2011), articulatory biases (Sóskuthy 2013), and informativity (Cohen Priva 2017). In this work we study another factor, functional load, by examining ongoing mergers in English and Dutch, trying to isolate the conditions under which functional load has a detectable effect in preventing a merger from the conditions under which no effect is visible. The effect is clear in cases of unconditioned mergers, like devoicing of Dutch fricatives, but unclear in cases of conditioned mergers, like the loss of a contrast in rhotic environments in English. We discuss the implications of these findings for the actuation problem and for phonological acquisition.
  • Publication
    Network Characteristics of American Raising
    (2020-01-01) Dodsworth, Robin; Forrest, Jon; Kohn, Mary
    The raising of the nucleus of /aɪ/ before voiceless consonants, as in write but not ride, has been observed in many North American English varieties (Davis et al. 2019, Fruehwald 2016, Joos 1942, Strelluf 2018). Its emergence appears to be phonetically motivated in some cases rather than the result of diffusion between communities (Chambers 1989, Thomas & Moreton 2008). Recent evidence from geographically diverse communities within the U.S. suggests that /aɪ/ raising is a new supra-regional sound change (Davis, et al. 2019; Strelluf 2018; Davis & Berkson 2019). The widespread and recent emergence of /aɪ/ raising offers the opportunity to study the social network characteristics of early adopters. This analysis compares the social distributions of /aɪ/ raising in two different social settings. The first is Raleigh, North Carolina, an urban setting in the Southeast, and the second is small-town Kansas as represented by suburban communities and rural agricultural communities located in the Great Plains region of the US. Both communities show evidence of this sound change, with a female lead. In Raleigh, network position is correlated with the loss of salient Southern vocalic features including /aɪ/ monophthongization, but /aɪ/ raising does not follow the same pattern. While network brokers or those with many weak ties are often assumed to lead sound changes, individual-level evidence from both Kansas and Raleigh is mixed with regard to whether network characteristics are correlated with /aɪ/ raising. These findings indicate that we still do not know the network factors facilitating the adoption and spread of supra-regional linguistic innovations.
  • Publication
    The Great Migration and the Spread of a Supraregional Variant: Glottal Stop Replacement of Word Final /d/ in DC African American Language
    (2020-01-01) Farrington, Charlie
    The Great Migration was the migration of African Americans out of the rural South between 1915 and 1970. In the 1960s, during the early period of sociolinguistic research on AAL, many communities under investigation had experienced massive in-migration over the preceding thirty years. The core findings of this research were, in part, a function of the new urban populations in the midst of sustained migration and intra-ethnic dialect contact. The current paper focuses on the early period of research on AAL in sociolinguistics, using data from 68 speakers recorded in 1968 in Washington DC available in Corpus of Regional African American Language. In DC, many of the of the in-migrants were working class and Southern born, moving into a city with a well-established African American population. To begin to understand the potential linguistic consequences of the Great Migration, we look at the spread of glottal stop replacement of word-final /d/, a feature in modern AAL that is geographically and socially widespread. The results show that young working-class females led in this sound change and that it was a change initially led by individuals whose parents were born outside of DC, demonstrating the impact the Great Migration had on varieties of AAL in Great Migration destination cities.
  • Publication
    English Adverb Placement in the Vernacular: A Longitudinal Perspective
    (2020-01-01) Buaillon, Emmanuelle; Allen, Caroline JH; D'Arcy, Alexandra
    Research on English variable adverb placement is largely focused on written evidence, with only rare insights from the vernacular. Moreover, no research has investigated adverb placement in longitudinal spoken data, meaning that little is understood about more historical stages in the operation of this system or how they relate to contemporary patterns. Drawing on a large multistage corpus, we pursue the question of what more distal stages of spoken language reveal with respect to patterns of adverb placement in vernacular English. Multivariate regression reveals not only that linguistic constraints condition variation in parallel to what is reported elsewhere, but that social factors are implicated as well. We also uncover diachronic evidence that the overall frequency of pre-auxiliary adverbs decreased between the mid-nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with one notable exception. Specifically, for modal + HAVE constructions, the pre-auxiliary position has historically been a particularly favorable one, and this order has increased significantly over time. Exploration of a possible explanation leads us to suggest that the increase in pre-auxiliary adverbs in modal + HAVE constructions is linked to the decrease in pre-auxiliary adverbs elsewhere, deriving from a parallel increase of HAVE reduction in vernacular speech. The results thus suggest an interaction between apparently independent processes in the verbal syntax of English.
  • Publication
    Investigation of the Effect of Contextual Factors on BIN Production in AAE
    (2020-01-01) Neal, Anissa; Whitmal, Ayana; Green, Lisa; Yu, Kristine M; Özyıldız, Deniz
    Treatments of African American English (AAE) in the literature have focused primarily on morphosyntactic differences from mainstream American English. One these differences is found in the tense and aspect system. While both dialects have the present perfect use for “been”, AAE also has a stressed variant of “been”, termed BIN. This aspectual marker is featured in the literature, but the main focus has been on its prosodic qualities. It differs from present perfect been in that it has the semantics of a remote past marker (Rickford 1973, Rickford 1975, Green 1998). For a comprehensive understanding of AAE’s tense aspect system, both syntactic-semantic and discourse-pragmatic aspects of these markers need to be studied as well. We complete a production experiment with members of an AAE-speaking community in Southwest Louisiana followed by an acceptability judgement task. The purpose of the experiment is twofold. First, it allows us to examine BIN production in canonical BIN environments and non-BIN environments. Second, by paying close attention to the context these environments occur in, we can also examine the influence of discourse-pragmatic factors (LONG-TIME, TEMPORAL JUST, POLAR QUESTIONS) on BIN production in unambiguous environments, as well as in ambiguous environments. The factors LONG-TIME and TEMPORAL JUST are found to be significant predictors of BIN production Furthermore, there is a significant difference in ambiguity, such that the unambiguous contexts predicted BIN slightly less. Overall, the results of the experiment suggest that speakers are consistent in their BIN production for expected BIN environments, but more variable in the non-BIN environments for both unambiguous and ambiguous contexts. This raises the interesting question of why speakers are more variable in the non-BIN environments as well as questioning what the discourse-pragmatic factors are actually capturing. Together, however, it suggests that there are a variety of components that can influence BIN production. Future areas of work could further investigate in regards these components.
  • Publication
    Intersections between Race, Place, and Gender in the Production of /s/
    (2020-01-01) Calder, Jeremy; King, Sharese
    Articulation of /s/ has been linked with gender identity in both production (e.g., Podesva and Van Hofwegen 2016, Hazenberg 2012) and perception studies (e.g., Strand 1999), with women producing a fronter /s/ than men, and a fronter /s/ being perceptually linked with femininity. However, this research has been conducted in largely white speech communities, and it remains an open question whether the same gendered patterns exist among African-American communities. We explore /s/ variation in two African-American (AA) communities: Rochester, NY, an urban community in which AAs form a significant portion of the population; and Bakersfield, CA, a non-urban community in which AAs form a small minority. Statistical analyses reveal no gender difference in /s/ articulation among Bakersfield AAs, with men being just as fronted as women. However, a gender pattern exists among Rochester AAs, with women being significantly more fronted than men. These results suggest that patterns linking phonetic variables to gender identities are specific to the communities under analysis, and may be influenced not only by speaker gender, but also by speaker race and geographic location. These patterns illuminate the importance of taking into account multiple intersecting dimensions of identity in studies of phonetic variation, as broad trends established for one group of speakers may not account for the complexity of how speakers of different demographic groups in different regions phonetically articulate gender identity.
  • Publication
    Extending Pillai Scores to Fricative Mergers: Advancing a Gradient Analysis of a Split-in-Progress in Andalusian Spanish
    (2020-01-01) Regan, Brendan
    While vocalic mergers and splits have been analyzed acoustically since the inception of variationist sociolinguistics (Labov 1994, Labov et al. 1972, Labov et al. 1991), consonant mergers and splits have principally been analyzed impressionistically. Andalusian Spanish presents such a case wherein the fricative mergers ceceo and seseo, and their ongoing split into distinción, have been extensively documented via impressionistic analysis documenting the role of social and linguistic factors (García-Amaya 2008, Melguizo 2007, Moya Corral and García-Wiedemann 1995, Regan 2017a, Santana 2016, 2016-207, Villena 1996), but there has been a lack of studies that acoustically analyze the gradience of this consonant demerger. In order to fill this gap, the current study utilizes a Pillai score analysis on a fricative split-in-progress in Andalusian Spanish, building on previous acoustic studies (Lasarte Cervantes 2010, Regan 2017b, in press a, in press b). The aims were two-fold: (i) to provide researchers a gradient sociophonetic approach to analyze the demerger of ceceo (or seseo) into distinción that can complement previous acoustic analyses; and (ii) to extend the use of Pillai scores to fricatives in order to incorporate consonant mergers and splits into the larger variationist discussion of mergers and splits as it is heavily biased towards English vowels (Gordon 2013). The study, based on read speech includes 19,420 tokens from 80 speakers, ages 18-87 (M: 43.7, SD: 17.2), balanced for gender (40 male, 40 female) and origin (40 Huelva, 40 Lepe). Independent variables included gender, age, education, occupation, origin, style, orthography, and following phonological context with speaker as a random factor. The acoustic measures considered in the creation of the Pillai scores were center of gravity (Hz), variance (Hz), skewness, and mean intensity (dB). The best explanation of the data was the Pillai score that incorporated only center of gravity and mean intensity, taking into consideration following phonological context. A mixed-effects linear regression found that this apparent time (Labov 1994:45) change in progress of ceceo into distinción is led by those with more formal education (secondary or university education), those employed in service or professionally oriented occupations, females, and in more formal styles. The current paper therefore extends the use of the Pillai score into a fricative split-in-progress, simultaneously advancing the sociophonetic analysis of Andalusian fricatives as well as providing a non-English and non-vocalic example to diversify the variationist discussion of mergers and splits.
  • Publication
    Regional Features and the Jewish Ethnolinguistic Repertoire in Chicago
    (2020-01-01) Benheim, Jaime
    Regional features associated with New York City English have been argued to be a component of the Jewish American ethnolinguistic repertoire (Benor 2011), even for Jewish speakers who live elsewhere in the country (Knack 1991, Sacknovitz 2007). In Chicago, meta-linguistic commentary from Jewish Chicagoans suggests that they associate New York regional features with Jewish speakers, and Chicago features with Irish Catholic Chicagoans. In a socially-primed phoneme categorization task, however, Jewish Chicagoans’ categorizations along TRAP-LOT and LOT-THOUGHT continua were not influenced by the top-down social information they were presented about the speaker’s regional (New York v. Chicago) or ethnoreligious (Jewish v. Catholic) background. Rather, categorization along the TRAP-LOT continuum was significantly predicted by listener background: specifically, Orthodox Jewish listeners expected a more Chicago-like phonemic boundary for these vowel classes, relative to non-Orthodox Jewish listeners. This suggests that the relationships between Jewish speakers and New York City English that are discussed in meta-linguistic commentary did not influence lower-level perception in this task, and that the relationship between New York City English and Jewish speakers may in fact be complicated by social factors beyond straightforward ethnoreligious identity.
  • Publication
    Why are wasteyutes a ting?
    (2020-01-01) Bigelow, Lauren; Gadanidis, Tim; Schlegl, Lisa; Umbal, Pocholo; Denis, Derek
    This paper examines lexical enregisterment through TH/DH-stopping in Multicultural Toronto English (MTE), a multiethnolect emergent in the Greater Toronto Area. Sociolinguistic interview data from young MTE speakers reveals an overall ~10% rate of stopping, with teenage males being the primary stoppers. However, despite the presence of stopping in the vernacular of most speakers, certain terms referring to character archetypes - e.g. wasteyutes, mandem - have become sites of enregisterment of TH/DH-stopping in MTE rather than enregisterment of stopping in more frequent words or of stopping itself. We argue that this is because these lexical items implement reflexive tropes, as speakers thought to be stoppers are those who might be labeled wasteyutes or mandem: young, male, suburban, typically non-white, and typically low status. As such, performance of these stereotypical personae fosters indexical linking between sound (TH/DH-stopping) and culturally salient identities (wasteyutes, mandem), cementing enregisterment of these terms in MTE.
  • Publication
    Local Identity and Standardization: Evidence from Tianjin Chinese Tone Sandhi
    (2020-01-01) Wang, Xiaomei; Wagner, Suzanne E
    This paper studies the roles of local identity and language attitude in language change by examining Tianjin Chinese tone sandhi in apparent time (90 speakers, sociolinguistic interviews, born 1932-1996). Previous studies on Tianjin Chinese indicated that some dialect features were decreasing in frequency over time (Gao and Lu 2003, Gu and Liu 2003, X. Wang 2017), but some other dialect features were increasing (Shi and Wang 2004, X. Wang 2017). Why are local features of Tianjin dialect changing in different directions under the same social and linguistic conditions? We propose that the influence of Standard Chinese (SC) and negative attitude to Tianjin dialect make the stereotyped local features decrease, while the desire to keep local identity, especially when facing a large number of migrants, makes the unmarked local features increase. This is in line with Labov’s (1972) study of Martha’s Vineyard, whereby traditional local features may come to index resistance to standardization and to the incursion of new people into the speech community.