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LINGUIST List 20.349

Tue Feb 03 2009

Diss: Socioling: Kendall: 'Speech Rate, Pause, and Linguistic ...'

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        1.    Tyler Kendall, Speech Rate, Pause, and Linguistic Variation: An examination through the Sociolinguistic Archive and Analysis Project

Message 1: Speech Rate, Pause, and Linguistic Variation: An examination through the Sociolinguistic Archive and Analysis Project
Date: 02-Feb-2009
From: Tyler Kendall <tsk3duke.edu>
Subject: Speech Rate, Pause, and Linguistic Variation: An examination through the Sociolinguistic Archive and Analysis Project
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Institution: Duke University
Program: English Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2009

Author: Tyler Kendall

Dissertation Title: Speech Rate, Pause, and Linguistic Variation: An examination through the Sociolinguistic Archive and Analysis Project

Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics

Subject Language(s): English (eng)

Dissertation Director:
Walt Wolfram
Erik R. Thomas
Ronald R. Butters
Agnes Bolonyai

Dissertation Abstract:

Recordings of speech play a central role in the diverse subdisciplines of
linguistics. The reliance on speech recordings is especially profound in
sociolinguistics, where scholars have developed a range of techniques for
eliciting and analyzing natural talk. Despite the focus on naturalistic
speech data, sociolinguists have rarely focused explicitly on the
management (e.g. organization, storage, accessibility, and preservation) of
their data, and this lack of focus has had consequences for the advancement
of the field. At the same time, the interviews that sociolinguists labor so
hard to obtain are often barely mined for their full potential to further
our understanding of language. That is, sociolinguists often focus on a
handful of phonological and/or morphosyntactic variables to the exclusion
of so many other features of speech. The present work both addresses the
management of sociolinguistic data and, through an innovative approach to
speech data management and analysis, extends the sociolinguistic lens to
include the lesser-examined realm of variation in sequential temporal
patterns of talk.

The first part of this dissertation describes the Sociolinguistic Archive
and Analysis Project (SLAAP), a web-based digitization and preservation
initiative at North Carolina State University. SLAAP, which I principally
have designed and developed, is more than an archive; it has actively
sought to explicate approaches to spoken language data management and to
enrich spoken language data through the development of analytic tools
designed specifically for sociolinguistic analysis. This dissertation
begins by situating SLAAP within the history of data management practices
in the field of sociolinguistics. It then provides an overview of many of
SLAAP's features, discussing in particular the transcript model that
enables most of its analytic and presentational capabilities.

The second part of this dissertation takes advantage of SLAAP's data model
and the extensive language data accumulated within its archive to examine
variation in speech rate and silent pause duration by North American
English speakers of four ethnicities in North Carolina, Ohio, Texas,
Washington, DC, and Newfoundland. This work brings a wide range of previous
research from different areas of sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and
corpus linguistics to bear on an array of quantitative analyses,
demonstrating that speech rate and pause exhibit meaningful variation at
the social level at the same time as they are also constrained by cognitive
and articulatory processes.

Specifically, pause and speech rate are shown to vary by region, ethnicity,
and gender - albeit not in mono-directional ways - although other factors
arise as significant, including, for speech rate, a strong effect of
utterance length as well as a number of interactional or discourse-related
factors, such as the gender of the interviewer and the number of
participants in the speech event. A number of the examinations undertaken
relate sociolinguistic conceptions of style to language production and
cognitive processes, including a quantitative analysis of sequential
temporal patterns as paralinguistic cues to attention to speech,
performativity, and the realization of phonological and morphosyntactic
variables. Through this analysis sociolinguistic data and findings are
brought to bear on a tradition of psycholinguistic investigations with the
hope to benefit both, often disparate, areas of research.

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