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Linguistic Diversity and Social Justice

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Language Evolution: The Windows Approach

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Language Evolution: The Windows Approach addresses the question: "How can we unravel the evolution of language, given that there is no direct evidence about it?"


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Academic Paper


Title: The effect of outliers on the perception of sound change
Author: William Labov
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~labov/home.html
Institution: University of Pennsylvania
Author: Maciej Baranowski
Institution: University of Manchester
Author: Aaron J. Dinkin
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: http://ling.upenn.edu/~dinkin
Institution: Swarthmore College
Linguistic Field: Phonetics; Sociolinguistics
Abstract: The role of outliers in vowel distributions is examined through an experiment that registers subjects' assessments of symmetrical and asymmetrical distributions. Subjects first scaled their subjective impressions of a series of six resynthesized tokens of the word bad ranging from low front to upper mid front. They were then asked to register on this scale their overall impressions of four series of five phrases including bad: low symmetrical, low with a very low outlier, high symmetrical, high with a very high outlier. Subjects show the capacity to integrate outliers into their overall assessments in a manner consistent with their acoustic properties. The effect of low outliers was significantly greater, reflecting the socially marked status of this form in the Philadelphia community.

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This article appears IN Language Variation and Change Vol. 22, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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