University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics


This paper focuses on /r/ vocalization on the reality television show Say Yes to the Dress, which features an upscale bridal salon in New York City. The study examines five bridal consultants working at Kleinfeld Bridal in Manhattan. Using the brides’ budgets as a proxy for social status, we investigate whether variation in consultants’ use of /r/ correlates with the amount of money brides state they are willing to spend on their dress, which ranges from $1,000 to unlimited. A mixed-effects model in Rbrul shows significant differences across three budget categories. We argue that although there are important methodological differences, our findings parallel Labov’s original department store study as well as later replications. Additionally, qualitative examination of show excerpts suggests that variation in /r/ may be recruited in performing particular interactional roles, as consultants use clusters of [r-1] or [r-0], depending on the positioning taken in a given interaction.