LINGUIST List 14.1115

Tue Apr 15 2003

Diss: Socioling: Tamasi "Cognitive Patterns..."

Editor for this issue: Anita Yahui Huang <>


  1. stamasi, Socioling: Tamasi "Cognitive Patterns of Linguistic Perceptions"

Message 1: Socioling: Tamasi "Cognitive Patterns of Linguistic Perceptions"

Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2003 12:55:12 +0000
From: stamasi <>
Subject: Socioling: Tamasi "Cognitive Patterns of Linguistic Perceptions"

Institution: University of Georgia
Program: Linguistics Program
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2003

Author: Susan L Tamasi 

Dissertation Title: 
Cognitive Patterns of Linguistic Perceptions

Linguistic Field: Sociolinguistics, Cognitive Science

Dissertation Director 1: William A. Kretzschmar

Dissertation Abstract: 

This research explores the attitudes and perceptions that nonlinguists
have about variation in language and analyzes how this knowledge is
cognitively organized.

I created an innovative, inter-disciplinary methodology to reveal folk
perceptions, such as the types and number of American dialects and the
social traits (i.e. issues of status and solidarity) that are
associated with speech. I then placed this information within a
cognitive framework in order to explore the ways in which people
understand and utilize linguistic variation.

Sixty informants from two different locations (North Georgia and
Central New Jersey) participated in a series of tasks developed to
elicit their perceptions toward variation in American English.
Participants were given a set of index cards with state names written
on them and were asked to divide them into piles according to where
people speak differently from one another. Participants were then
given a stack of cards which listed social traits (e.g. intelligent,
trustworthy, pleasant) and linguistic traits (e.g. nasal) and were
asked to describe the speech of the dialect communities they created
in the first task. Next, participants listened to four voice samples
from four different locations around the U. S. (Georgia, New Jersey,
Illinois, and Missouri) and were asked to use the cards from the first
two tasks to describe the speech samples geographically, socially, and
linguistically. Finally, participants were asked a short series of
questions to clarify, confirm, and develop their earlier responses.

Using qualitative and quantitative data, I show that people categorize
their knowledge of language in patterned, culturally-determined ways
and that the conceptual organization of language reveals a complex,
interrelated network of social, regional, and personal information.
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