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Academic Paper


Title: Regional differences in perceiving vowel tokens on Southerness, education, and pleasantness ratings
Author: Valerie M. Fridland
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of Nevada at Reno
Linguistic Field: Phonology; Sociolinguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: This study investigates the role of regional dialect experience on the social awareness of synthesized vowel tokens to regional in-group and out-group members. For the study, speakers from Reno, NV, were given the same perception test used in a previous study in Memphis, TN. Comparing the Reno results to those found in Memphis, the study examines whether differences in regional vowel norms affect how Westerners rate Southern-shifted and non-Southern-shifted vowel variants on Southernness, education, and pleasantness scales. The study also looks at how Reno raters interpreted shifted back vowel variants, found productively in their local community, compared to front vowel shifts found exclusively in the South. Finally, the paper explores how the results suggest that regional dialect exposure attunes listeners to attend to different aspects of vowel quality than those outside the region. In examining how regional dialect experience affects listener recognition and evaluation of local and nonlocal vowel norms, the paper begins to explore how much the production/perception relationship is mediated by speakers' participation in locally constructed and defined speech communities.

CUP AT LINGUIST

This article appears IN Language Variation and Change Vol. 20, Issue 1.

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