LINGUIST List 15.2439

Thu Sep 2 2004

Diss: Phonetics/Socioling: Clopper: 'Linguistic...'

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  1. cclopper, Linguistic Experience and the Perceptual Classification of Dialect Variation

Message 1: Linguistic Experience and the Perceptual Classification of Dialect Variation

Date: Wed, 1 Sep 2004 16:28:15 -0400 (EDT)
From: cclopper <cclopperindiana.edu>
Subject: Linguistic Experience and the Perceptual Classification of Dialect Variation

Institution: Indiana University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2004

Author: Cynthia G Clopper

Dissertation Title: Linguistic Experience and the Perceptual
Classification of Dialect Variation

Linguistic Field: Phonetics, Sociolinguistics, Cognitive Science 

Dissertation Director 1: Kenneth de Jong
Dissertation Director 2: David B. Pisoni

Dissertation Abstract:

The effects of linguistic experience on the perceptual classification
of phonological dialect variation were investigated in a series of
behavioral experiments with na�ve listeners. A new digital speech
corpus was collected which contains audio recordings of five male and
five female talkers from each of six dialect regions in the United
States (New England, Mid-Atlantic, North, Midland, South, and West).
The speech materials recorded from each talker included isolated
words, sentences, passages of connected text, and conversational
speech. Acoustic analyses of the vowel systems of the talkers
confirmed significant phonological variation due to regional dialect.
Perceptual classification of dialect variation was assessed using
sentence-length utterances from the new corpus with a six-alternative
forced-choice categorization task and a free classification task. The
independent variables examined in this study reflected the residential
history of the listeners. In particular, two levels of the variables
'geographic mobility' and 'geographic location' were crossed to
produce four different listener groups. For the mobility variable,
listeners were either mobile (lived in more than one dialect region)
or non-mobile (lived in only one dialect region). For the location
variable, listeners came from either the Northern or the Midland
dialect region of the United States. While residential history did
not produce differences in overall accuracy in the forced-choice
categorization task or classification strategy in the free
classification task, residential history was found to affect the
perceptual similarity of the six regional varieties examined.
Clustering and multidimensional scaling analyses revealed that both
geographic mobility and location help to shape the perceived
similarity between geographically local dialects. In particular, the
Northern listeners perceived a greater similarity between Northern and
Midland talkers than the Midland listeners, while the Midland
listeners perceived a greater similarity between the Midland and
Southern talkers than the Northern listeners. In addition, the
perceptual similarity spaces of the mobile listeners were less
affected by geographic location than the similarity spaces of the
non-mobile listeners. The perceptual classification results from this
study contribute to the growing literature on the effects of
linguistic experience on the perception of dialect variation by na�ve
listeners.
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