Linguistics and English Language

Language variation and change

Speaker: Matthew John Hadodo (University of Bern)

Title: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches to Variation

Abstract: Sound change has been at the forefront of sociolinguistics research since Labov’s and Trudgill’s landmark studies on variation in English. Over the past decades, more sophisticated methodologies have emerged allowing for more detailed analyses, whether in terms of acoustic or articulatory properties of speech, or in the perception and evaluation of speakers. Whether using software such as Praat to measure vowel formants or designing matched guises to assess attitudes to specific phonetic variants, sound has arguably been the linguistic structure most influential in the development of the subdiscipline of sociolinguistics. However, social motivations for variation and change do not always get equal attention by sociophoneticians and others interested in carrying out such work. This talk engages with ways to center sociolinguistic motivations in conducting both production and perception- based studies of linguistic variation. I discuss some of the ways I have incorporated qualitative approaches in locating meaningful sound change (e.g., ethnography and discourse analysis) to quantitative methods (e.g., acoustic measurements and statistical modeling) and how those can be married in other approaches (e.g., verbal guises). Using data from Istanbul Greek informants, I show how ethnographically motivated research canyield robust, statistically significant results. Hopefully, future sociophonetic research will continue to bridge methodologies, further informing how we ask and answer research questions.

Contact details

May 15 2023 -

Language variation and change

2023-05-15: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches to Variation

Room 7.01, Dugald Stewart Building, 3 Charles Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AD