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LINGUIST List 20.2037

Tue Jun 02 2009

Diss: Phonetics/Psycholing/Socioling: Drager: 'A Sociophonetic...'

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        1.    Katie Drager, A Sociophonetic Ethnography of Selwyn Girls' High

Message 1: A Sociophonetic Ethnography of Selwyn Girls' High
Date: 02-Jun-2009
From: Katie Drager <katiedragergmail.com>
Subject: A Sociophonetic Ethnography of Selwyn Girls' High
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Institution: University of Canterbury
Program: Linguistics Department
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2009

Author: Katie Drager

Dissertation Title: A Sociophonetic Ethnography of Selwyn Girls' High

Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics

Dissertation Director:
Alex D'Arcy
Jen Hay

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis reports on findings from a year-long sociolinguistic
ethnography at an all girls' high school in New Zealand which is referred
to as Selwyn Girls' High (SGH). The study combines the qualitative methods
of ethnography with the quantitative methods of acoustic phonetic analysis
and experimental design. At the school, there were a number of different
groups (e.g. The PCs, The Pasifika Group, The BBs), each forming a
community of practice where the different members actively constructed
their unique social personae within the context of the group. There was a
dichotomy between the groups based on whether they ate lunch in the common
room (CR) or not (NCR) and this division reflected the individual speakers'
stance on whether they viewed themselves as 'normal' or different from
other girls at the school.

In-depth acoustic analysis was conducted on tokens of the word 'like' from
the girls' speech. This is a word with a number of different pragmatic
functions, such as quotative 'like' (I was LIKE 'yeah okay'), discourse
particle 'like' (It was LIKE so boring), and lexical verb 'like' (I LIKE
your socks). The results provide evidence of acoustically gradient
variation in the girls' realisations of the word 'like' that is both
grammatically and socially conditioned. For example, quotative 'like' was
more likely to have a shorter /l/ to vowel duration ratio and be less
diphthongal than either discourse particle 'like' or grammatical 'like' and
there was a significant difference in /k/ realisation depending on a
combination of the token's pragmatic function and whether the speaker ate
lunch in the CR or not. Additionally, three speech perception experiments
were conducted in order to examine the girls' sensitivity to the
relationship between phonetic variants, lemma-based information, and social
factors. The results indicate that perceivers were able to distinguish
between auditory tokens of the different functions of 'like' in a manner
that was consistent with trends observed in production. Perceivers were
also able to extract social information about the speaker depending on
phonetic cues in the stimuli.

Taken together, the results provide evidence that lemmas with a shared
wordform can have different phonetic realisations, that individuals can
manipulate these realisations in the construction of their social personae,
and that individuals can use lemma-based phonetic trends from production to
identify a word. These results have implications for how phonetic, lemma,
and social information are stored in the mind and, together, they are used
to inform a unified model of speech production, perception and identity

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