Workshops > Workshop 2A - 1:45-3:30

Towards Best Practices in Sociophonetics (2009)

Marianna Di Paolo & Malcah Yaeger-Dror
University of Utah & University of Arizona

Richard Ogden
Anne Fabricius

Our goal in this workshop is to continue the discussion of best practices in sociophonetics begun at NWAV 33. The number of researchers interested in engaging in this interdisciplinary area of study continues to grow in spite of the increasingly wide range of knowledge necessary to do high quality work in sociophonetics. It is especially difficult for researchers at institutions with fewer financial and collegial resources to keep up with technical and theoretical advances in acoustic phonetics, speech perception, and recording technology, and theoretical advances in social structure and linguistic theory. This annual workshop helps to provide quick access to methodological, technical, and procedural information from the best labs, so the attendees can carry out similar reliable work.

This year the workshop will focus on two areas: conversation analysis and vowel normalization. In response to the requests and comments received at previous sessions, a long question and answer session is also included:

I. An introduction to phonetics of conversation: phonetics and conversation analysis in tandem
Richard Ogden, University of York, England

This segment of the workshop begins with an orientation to the methodology of Conversation Analysis, providing an overview of questions generally addressed in the literature; then specific sociophonetic tools are used to answer such questions. Illustrations drawing on data from English and other languages highlight the fact that even the qualitative stage of analysis benefits from acoustic and auditory methods. The workshop presenter discusses how CA, through its interest in sequential environment, can provide us as analysts with means to compare tokens and to discover the rule-governed behavior hidden in sociophonetic detail.

II. More on Normalization: What did that algorithm do to my data? And what do I see now?
Anne Fabricius, Roskilde University

This segment of the workshop opens with an orientation to the methodology of Vowel Normalization, a tool used in determining the influence of specific demographic features (such as age, ethnicity, social class, or sex) on the direction and rapidity of vowel shifting. A previous workshop in this series discussed the choices of formulae used to normalize vowels, and the difficulties involved in determining a pattern of sociophonetic vowel change when there are few stable vowels in the speech community. In contrast, this workshop segment reviews the typology of methods available, and then discusses the results of testing these different methods against each other. It demonstrates that as researchers we have choices to make, and that the results of our choices can either clarify or obfusticate the patterns occurring in the data. The goal of the workshop is to permit us to make appropriate decisions for the data which we are analyzing.

Marianna Di Paolo, Malcah Yaeger-Dror and the session presenters

IV. Planning for next time
Malcah Yaeger-Dror and Marianna Di Paolo