It was about one and a half years ago that I finally I arrived where I had always wanted to be and do what I had always wanted-- teach students, support small language communities and conduct research on African languages on my doorstep. The University of Cape Town and my new colleagues welcomed my efforts to establish the Centre for African Language Diversity-- CALDi as well as The African Language Archive-- TALA and I was recently appointed the Mellon Research Chair: African Language Diversity this initiative. The main aim of CALDi is to train young African scholars in descriptive linguistics and open up space for research into African languages at UCT with the hopes of countering the dominance of African linguistics outside the continent. It has been a great challenge for which my whole career has been a form of preparation...Read more
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Individual effects in variation analysis: Model, software, and research design
Individual-level variation is a recurrent issue in variationist sociolinguistics. One current approach recommends addressing this via mixed-effects modeling. This paper shows that a closely related model with fixed effects for individual speakers can be directly estimated using Goldvarb. The consequences of employing different approaches to speaker variation are explored by using different model selection criteria. We conclude by discussing the relation of the statistical model to the assumptions of the research design, pointing out that nonrandom selection of speakers potentially violates the assumptions of models with random effects for speaker, and suggesting that a model with fixed effects for speakers may be a better alternative in these cases.