The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Ling-Lunch 12/4 - Peter Graff

Please join us for this week’s Ling-lunch:

Peter Graff
“The Culture-Phonology Interface: Implications of Laboratory Sociophonetics for Phonological Theory”
Thursday, Dec. 4
Room 32-D461

In this talk we will address the impact of social factors on phonological generalizations. The notion of a social variable in speech will be defined. An overview of laboratory and corpus-based studies of the interaction of phonetic variation and different social variables will be provided. Common factors of categories affected by sociophonetic variation and possible causes for sociophonetic variation will be identified. Cross-linguistic evidence for high-level phonological alternations interacting with social factors will be presented and possible models will be discussed.

In the second part of the talk we report on research probing selective imitation in the laboratory, comparing male and female subjects’ imitation of male and female talkers. We also compare male and female subjects’ imitation of the same stimuli when they are phonetically ambiguous but labeled as “Michael” or “Jessica” to shed light on the question of whether socially motivated phonetic imitation is conditioned by acoustic or cultural factors.