From: Lucia Pozzan <lpozzangc.cuny.edu>
Subject: Featured lecture: W. Labov at CUNY-Graduate Center
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TITLE: Properties of the Sociolinguistic Monitor
ABSTRACT: Studies of speech communities have shown that sociolinguistic
variables display a fine-grained social and stylistic stratification in
production. A recent series of experiments examined the perceptual aspect
of this variation. The experiments were designed to explore the sensitivity
and temporal window of the monitoring faculty. The variable (ING),
representing the alternation of morphemes with apical and velar nasals, was
selected as one of the most stable and well recognized variables of this
type. Listeners heard a series of trials by a speaker auditioning for a job
as a broadcast announcer, in which the frequency of the /in/ variant ranged
from 0 to 100%, and were asked to assign a rating on a scale of job
suitability. Judges in Philadelphia displayed a close fit to a logarithmic
function in responses to this task, in which the impact of a given
deviation from the norm was equivalent to the proportional increase in
deviations. The same function appeared in responses of college student
judges in Columbia, South Carolina and Durham, New Hampshire, for local and
non-local speakers. However, judges of high school age showed only a
linear response at a lower level of precision, varying according to social
class. Among college students, age was also relevant. Above the age of
23, all judges showed the logarithmic function at a high level of
precision. College students from 18 to 23 displayed a bimodal distribution,
evenly divided into those who responded with the logarithmic function and
those with little sensitivity to the variable. Such sensitivity to
frequencies represents an aspect of sociolinguistic maturation much later
in the lifespan than any so far discovered.
WHERE: Graduate Center, CUNY, 365 5th Avenue, NY, NY (room C198)
WHEN: Thursday, 20 March, 2008, at 4:15 p.m.
This event is co-sponsored by the Linguistics Program at the Graduate
Center and by The Classical, Middle Eastern, and Asian Languages and
Cultures Department at Queens College.
For more information, please contact Ingrid Heidrick at
IHeidrickgc.cuny.edu, or the CUNY Graduate Center Linguistics Department
by phone (212) 817-8500, or by email linguisticsgc.cuny.edu.
Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics
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