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Friday, October 11 • 2:05pm - 2:30pm
Gratton: Vowel space peripherality as a sociolinguistic variable

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Vowel space peripherality as a sociolinguistic variable

While work in sociolinguistics has shown that vowel space dispersion plays a role in vowel shifts, little is known about the indexical potential of changes in vowel space peripherality. This study, of 35 speakers in unscripted dyadic interactions, suggests that vowel space dispersion is iconically tied to speaker positioning. First, speakers’ vowel spaces were more centralized when they felt more comfortable in the interaction or when they ‘clicked’ more with their interlocutor. Shared common ground provides the ability to interpret ‘reduced’ signals (like centralization), and this ‘reduced’ signal itself is iconic of shared common ground. Second, vowel spaces were also more centralized when speakers enjoyed the interaction less. This proprioceptive iconic link between vowel space peripherality and speaker openness — effectively ‘fold in’ on oneself acoustically — allows speakers to indicate emotional involvement through both physiological and linguistic means. These findings motivate treating the vowel space as an interactionally meaningful sociolinguistic variable.

avatar for Chantal Gratton

Chantal Gratton

PhD Candidate, Stanford University

Friday October 11, 2019 2:05pm - 2:30pm PDT
EMU Crater Lake N
  T: ADS sponsored
  • Session type Talk
  • Chair: Kirk Hazen