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Friday, October 11 • 11:45am - 12:10pm
Austen: Pushing the envelope of variation: Listener perceptions of the TRAP/BATH split

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Pushing the envelope of variation: Listener perceptions of the TRAP/BATH split

This project investigates listeners’ sensitivity to linguistic environment in social meaning. In the TRAP/BATH split found in the south of England, BATH words (e.g. "class") contain [ɑ:], whereas TRAP words (e.g. "classic") contain [a]. British listeners perceive B[ɑ:]TH as 'posh' and prestigious (Gupta 2005). This experiment asks whether listeners limit this “[ɑ:]=posh” social meaning to BATH words: if "cl[ɑ:]ss" sounds posh, does "cl[ɑ:]ssic" also sound posh? Southern British, northern British, and American listeners completed a ‘character selection task’, matching [ɑ:]/[a] pronunciations to ‘posh’, ‘social climber’, or ‘working class’ television characters. Southerners were more likely to associate [ɑ:] with posh characters in BATH words than TRAP words, whereas northerners (whose speech lacks the split) selected posh characters equally for both word classes. Americans responded at chance, suggesting no social meaning. The northerners’ results indicate that social meaning can be “leaky”, spreading beyond the linguistic environment in which a variant actually occurs.

Speakers
MA

Martha Austen

Ohio State University


Friday October 11, 2019 11:45am - 12:10pm
EMU Crater Lake N
  • Session type Talk
  • Chair: Lauren Hall-Lew
  • Award Best Student Abstract


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