Selected papers from NWAV 37

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 15
  • Publication
    A Quantitative Analysis of Diphthongization in Montreal French
    (2010-03-21) MacKenzie, Laurel; Sankoff, Gillian; MacKenzie, Laurel; Sankoff, Gillian
    In Montreal French, a process of diphthongization affects long vowels: those that are inherently long due to historical compensatory lengthening (Yaeger-Dror and Kemp, 1992), and those that are allophonically lengthened before voiced fricatives and /R/ (Dumas, 1981; Santerre and Millo, 1978). Our quantitative analysis of diphthongization in real time examines both the trajectory of this change through the community as well as individual speakers’ participation in it across their lifespans. Our study also provides acoustic measurements of the Montreal French vowel system. We tracked individuals’ vowel trajectories across a 24-year span for a panel of six speakers of diverse social classes. Matched trend samples from the 1971 and 1984 Montreal corpora, with four speakers sampled per year, provide a picture of the community as a whole. We find that four vowels show significant lowering and/or backing in the community, and that all long vowels show decreased diphthongization. Some panel speakers’ longitudinal movements mirror these changes, while other speakers are stable across their lifespans and still others show apparently anomalous movements. We discuss these results and their interpretation.
  • Publication
    What do Listeners Know about Sociolinguistic Variation?
    (2010-03-21) Staum Casasanto, Laura; Staum Casasanto, Laura
    A pair of experiments addressed two questions regarding listeners’ sociolinguistic knowledge: First, how do listeners use facts about speech to inform their beliefs about speakers? Second, and conversely, how might listeners use facts about speakers to inform their perceptions of speech? Results of Experiment 1 demonstrate that listeners can infer characteristics of speakers from their use of an individual sociolinguistic variable. Results of Experiment 2 show that listeners use social information about speakers to understand ambiguous speech. Together, these results show bidirectional influences between language processing and the process of social inferencing: information in the speech stream affects inferences about social characteristics of the speaker, and social information affects speech perception.
  • Publication
    Sounds Shifty: Gender and Age Differences in Perceptual Categorization During a Phonetic Change in Progress
    (2010-03-21) De Decker, Paul; De Decker, Paul
    This paper examines the perception of the low front vowel /ae/ which has been found to be more centralized by younger speakers of some varieties of Canadian English (Labov, Ash & Boberg 2006, De Decker 2006). The results of an experiment are presented here revealing that centralized variants of /ae/ are categorized and evaluated differently by members of the same speech community. This suggests that vocalic drift is not merely a mechanical operation but a process mediated by variation in perceptual analysis. In the experiment, subjects listened to different pronunciations of the word sack. The second formant of the vowel was manipulated using Praat (Boersma & Weenink 2009) to produce a 19-step continuum of forms ranging between canonical sack and sock . 39 Subjects were asked to categorize each variant as sounding like “sack”, “sock" or "either sack or sock". Results reveal differences in categorization of vowel stimuli along the lines of gender and age. Male respondents were found to assign more of the continuum the label sock while female respondents heard a higher percentage of the continuum as sack. That is, when presented with the exact same continuum of forms, males exhibit a narrower range for the vowel /ae/ whereas females showed an extended tolerance for /æ/ further along the continuum. A similar result is found for age: younger speakers exhibited more centralized perceptual boundaries than older speakers. It is argued that these results are consistent with a view that considers phonetic changes like /ae/-retraction are facilitated via perceptual re-analysis. This model of sound change is contrasted with others like Ohala's (1981, 1993) misperception theory which states that sound changes result from the under- or over-application of phonetic reconstruction rules.
  • Publication
    “I ain’t Never Been Charged with Nothing!”: The Use of Falsetto Speech as a Linguistic Strategy of Indignation
    (2010-03-21) Nielsen, Rasmus; Nielsen, Rasmus
    This article examines falsetto speech in African American English (AAE). Although AAE is arguably the most studied dialect of American English, intonation in general and falsetto in particular are still poorly understood. The present study investigates falsetto phonation in a linguistic case study of “Michael,” a fourteen year old African American male from Washington, D.C. I focus on the quantitative patterning of falsetto in addition to inferring the multifaceted social meanings of falsetto from the interview discourse. For this purpose, the falsetto is measured in terms of maximum F0 (Hz), falsetto range (Hz), and duration of falsetto (ms) in various discursive positionings. The analysis reveals that the sociological interview, in which the focus is on eliciting specific information on a set list of topics rather than making the interviewee feel comfortable, causes misalignment between “Michael” and the interviewer. Falsetto occurs in 45 out of a total of 1680 intonational phrases, and while the generic meaning of falsetto is expressiveness, the analysis reveals also that the most extreme falsetto phonation occurs in forced self-positioning + repositioning with severe cases of oppositional alignment between “Michael” and the interviewer. In these cases, “Michael” conveys indignation towards the interview questions, while using falsetto as a proactive, agentive tool to reposition his status and thus change his discursively constructed place in the social world.
  • Publication
    Religious Affiliation as a Correlate of Linguistic Behavior
    (2010-04-21) Baker, Wendy; Bowie, David; Baker, Wendy; Bowie, David
    The current study examined whether religious affiliation in Utah County, Utah affected the production of several vowel mergers typical of the area (i.e., fell-fail, pool-pole-pull,card-cord). To do so, we asked self-identified members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and self-identified non-Mormons to produce these vowel contrasts. Next, three naïve raters trained in phonetics but unfamiliar with how English is spoken in Utah were asked to judge which of the two vowels in a vowel pair contrast was produced by the speakers. Findings demonstrated clear evidence of differences based on self-described religious affiliation for several of the vowel mergers (hot-caught, pin-pen, bag-beg, fail-fell, and pool-pull-pole), in that those who self-described as Mormons who actively participate in religious activities exhibited significantly different linguistic behavior from those who self-described as non-Mormons. Most interestingly, though, we found that even when both groups merged two vowels in a vowel pair (hot-caught) they did so in ways slightly different from each other. From all this, we conclude that religions that require a high time commitment of their members facilitate the development of social networks based on religious affiliation, leading to linguistic differences between adherents and non-adherents. Therefore, we urge sociolinguists to investigate religious affiliation as a possible social factor in their studies of communities, particularly when a religion in the community requires a large involvement of time on the part of its members.
  • Publication
    The Northern Cities Shift in Real Time: Evidence from Chicago
    (2010-03-21) McCarthy, Corrine; McCarthy, Corrine
    One of the most important questions surrounding the Northern Cities Shift (NCS) is its chronology: which vowel was the first to move, and how long ago did these movements happen? Based on a large-scale apparent-time study, Labov, Ash and Boberg (2006) posit that /ae/ ‘cat’ shifted first, followed by /o~ah/ ‘cot’. The authors note, however, that this ordering is tenuous. Authors such as Thomas (2001) propose the opposite ordering. The age of the NCS is also open for debate; Thomas (2001) presents evidence of its emergence prior to 1900 in Northern Ohio, although other accounts place it as a much more recent development. Data are drawn from the largest of the Northern Cities, Chicago. Apparent-time data for Chicago are neutral on the issue of ordering, as neither vowel shows ongoing change in the direction of the NCS. Real-time data are therefore crucial, and constitute the focus of this paper. Vowel tokens from six Chicagoans born between 1890 and 1920 are analyzed acoustically and their vowel plots are presented. These analyses suggest that /ah/ fronting predates /ae/ raising (but possibly not /ae/ tensing), as /ah/ fronting is present but /ae/ raising is absent in the very oldest speakers. In addition, /ah/ fronting has probably been present in Chicago since at least 1900, in accordance with Thomas (2001).
  • Publication
    Affect, Sound Symbolism, and Variation
    (2010-03-21) Eckert, Penelope; Eckert, Penelope
    I will show how two preadolescent girls use the quality of /o/ and of the nucleus of /ay/ to index affect. Most particularly, how they use backed and raised occurrences to express what one might generally (and inadequately) call negative affect, and fronted occurrences to express what one might call sweetness and light, or a kind of childhood innocence. It remains to be seen how this kind of variability patterns in relation to the kinds of variables we’re accustomed to studying. At this point, I intend no more than to demonstrate that this is an important area to explore.
  • Publication
    New Directions in Sociolinguistic Cognition
    (2010-03-21) Campbell-Kibler, Kathryn; Campbell-Kibler, Kathryn
    Variationists have largely, though often implicitly, subscribed to a model of social cognition that characterizes complex social reasoning as conscious and deliberative (e.g. the sociolinguistic monitor), in opposition to rapid and automatic linguistic behaviors (e.g. the vernacular). This paper argues against that assumption, presenting evidence from the field of social cognition which documents automatic processing in the formation of social perceptions, the triggering and pursuit of goals and the effects of stereotype-based priming. Implications and future directions for variation are discussed.
  • Publication
    (2010-05-19) Gorman, Kyle; MacKenzie, Laurel
    The University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics (PWPL) is an occasional series published by the Penn Linguistics Club. 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 Colloquium. This volume contains selected papers from NWAV 37, held from November 6-9, 2008 in Houston, TX hosted by Rice University and co-hosted by University of Texas-San Antonio. Thanks (alphabetically) to Dimka Atanassov, Jana Beck, Toni Cook, Lauren Friedman, Shane Jobber, Catherine Lai, Marielle Lerner, Jon Stevens, and Joshua Tauberer for help in editing, uploading, and general support. Thanks also to Stefanie Brody for her initial work in putting together this volume. Since Vol. 14.2, PWPL has been an internet-only publication. Since Vol. 13.2, PWPL has been published both in print and online gratis via ScholarlyCommons@Penn. Due to the large number of hits these online papers have received, and the time and expense of managing a back catalog of PWPL volumes, the editorial committee decided in 2008 to cease print publication in favor of wider-scale free online dissemination. Please continue citing PWPL papers or issues as you would a paper in a refereed collection, though you may also provide the URL of the manuscript. An example is below: Baker, Wendy, and David Bowie. 2010. Religious affiliation as a correlate of linguistic behavior. In U. Penn Working Papers in Linguistics 15.2: Proceedings of NWAV 37, ed. K. Gorman and L. MacKenzie, 1-10. URL Ultimately, the entire back catalog will be digitized and made available on ScholarlyCommons@Penn. 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 619 Williams Hall University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 19104–6305 Kyle Gorman and Laurel MacKenzie Issue Editors
  • Publication
    Teaching the Standard Without Speaking the Standard: Variation Among Mandarin-Speaking Teachers in a Dual-Immersion School
    (2010-03-21) Starr, Rebecca L; Starr, Rebecca L
    In studies of nonstandard language in school settings, teachers are often characterized as speakers and promoters of the variety most valued by the school (Labov 1969, Wheeler & Swords 2006, etc.). When teachers' native variety is not equivalent to the school variety, they are confronted with the challenge of constructing an educator persona in a linguistic market in which their speech may not be associated with education. This task is particularly daunting in a dual immersion classroom, where certain students are relying on the teacher as their primary source of a language they do not speak at home, and other students may be native speakers of a variety more standard than that spoken by the teacher. Evidence from the present study, examining the merger of retroflex and dental sibilant initials in Mandarin, indicates that teachers systematically employ more standard language in more “curricular” contexts, thus providing cues for students still developing their knowledge of language and social meaning.