Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Colloquium Next Friday (10/31) at 3:30PM: Campbell-Kibler

Our next colloquium speaker will be Kathryn Campbell-Kibler (Ohio State), at 3:30PM on Wed, Oct 31 in the Greenberg room.

Reducing sociolinguistic cognition to previously unsolved problems

More than half a century of research in language variation and related fields has documented speakers’ ability to alter small details of their speech to conform to or agentively change the social elements of an interaction. Likewise, listeners are able to note these speech patterns and use them to form or change their social reading of a situation. These abilities apply both to linguistic forms speakers can verbally describe or even manipulate on command, and to those they cannot. In this talk I discuss the cognitive structures necessary to accomplish these feats. I consider the history of the sociolinguistic monitor, variation’s most developed model, and discuss its shortcomings in light of current evidence. I propose that sociolinguistic cognition requires no specialized cognitive machinery, rather its patterns are explainable by independently motivated structures of linguistic and social cognition and their interactions. Given that linguistic and social processing are both as yet not fully understood, the study of sociolinguistic cognition can help illuminate their structure by examining their interactions. To do so successfully, both the linguistic and the social must be centered.

Meaningful Lunch Tuesday (9/30) at 11:45 AM

Everyone with an interest in semantics is invited to Meaningful Lunch — an intermittent informal lunch meeting for all those at Stanford working on or interested in the study of natural language meaning, broadly construed!

The main purpose of these lunches is to keep everyone informed about current or nascent semantic-y research that is going on, scout out possibilities for collaboration, learn about plans of semantics-related events for the academic year, and generally have a good time in the company of your fellow meaning-folks.

This quarter’s lunch will take place on Tuesday, September 30, from 11:45am-12:50pm in Room 126 on the ground floor of Margaret Jacks Hall. Lunch will be provided.

Do come for some or all of that time!

Last Sesquip of The Year!

We’ll be seeing you again in the fall — thanks for reading, and don’t forget to send all your stories, jokes, and tidbits to!

To close the year out right, here’s a comic courtesy of MSU Linguistics:

Kevin McGowan to Offer Praat Script Mini-Course!

Kevin McGowan will be offering a three-day course on Praat scripting, Wednesday, June 25 – Friday, June 27. The class will meet 10-12 and 1-3.

More information to come, but get it on your calendars!

Socio talk Thursday, 5/15: Andrew Wong

Stanford linguistics alum Andrew Wong (California State University East Bay) will be visiting on Thursday, May 15  to speak to us about Perceptions of Unconventional Spelling in Brand Names.’ The talk will be in the Greenberg Room from 3:30-5:00.

Perceptions of Unconventional Spelling in Brand Names

<Starz>, <Netflix>, and <La-Z-Boy>.  These are just a few household brand names that consist of unconventional spellings of English words.  Third-wave variationists (e.g., Campbell-Kibler 2010, Eckert 2012, Podesva 2011) have recently called for a new approach to sociolinguistic variation that takes social meaning rather than linguistic change as its point of departure.  This approach has led researchers to use perceptual methodologies to study the full spectrum of linguistic resources that have the potential to take on social meaning.  The present study furthers these efforts by using perception data to examine the social meaning of unconventional spelling in brand names.

An online survey was used to collect data from 395 respondents (207 men, 185 women) on their perceptions of four spellings of poetic: <POETIC>, <POETICK>, <POETIK>, and <POETIQ>.  In this presentation, I will focus on the potential of the three unconventional spellings to convey newness and distinctiveness to people of different backgrounds.  I will argue that it is limiting to look at spelling practices through a normative lens.  Unconventional spellings do not all produce the same effects, and the standard/non-standard binary is not useful for understanding the meaning of orthographic variation.  This study also demonstrates the indeterminacy and uneven distribution of the social meanings of orthographic variation.  The <c>~<ck>~<k>~<q> alternation evokes a field of potential meanings.  Depending on various contextual factors, any of these meanings may be evoked in the situated use or interpretation of the variable, and certain meanings may be activated for some people but not others.


Campbell-Kibler, Kathryn 2010.  The sociolinguistic variant as a carrier of social meaning.  Language Variation and Change 22: 423-441.
Eckert, Penelope 2012.  Three waves of variation study: The emergence of meaning in the study of sociolinguistic variation.  Annual Review of Anthropology 41: 87-100.
Podesva, Robert 2011.  Salience and the social meaning of declarative contours: Three case studies of gay professionals.  Journal of English Linguistics 39: 233-264.

Colloquium Friday May 16: Alicia Wassink

Join us for a Colloquium given by Alicia Wassink (University of Washington) on Friday May 16 at 3:30PM in the Greenberg Room, followed by a social.

Vowel raising in Washington English: What’s the bag deal?

This paper considers the implications for sociolinguistic theory of vowel raising before velar stops in three word classes in Washington state English. (æg) bag, (ɛg) beg, and (eyg) vague are in close proximity for speakers in a three-generation sample. First, using group-level data, we ask whether by-generational differences point to a type of progression through vowel space. The patterns are investigated in terms of three theoretical types of merger. In “merger by approximation” (Labov, 1994:321) one affected vowel, e.g., (æg) gradually approaches another, e.g. (ɛg), or, both move to a spectral “middle ground”. In “merger by transfer,” affected vowels shift to a new phonemic class, word-by-word, without leaving behind intermediate forms. In “merger by expansion,” the ranges of the affected vowels are enlarged, the resulting distribution equivalent to the union of the two ranges. Group-level patterns rule out at least one of the options, allowing us to consider the mechanism of this change. Second, using individual data within generations, we ask whether speakers vary in the type of pattern they show. Can speakers in the same community appear to participate in the change in different ways (e.g., some by approximation, others by transfer, etc.?). If so, is this a problem for characterizing the change?

To test the theories of merger, we use acoustic data reflecting the locations of stable point vowels paired with vowels involved in the change, as well as data for the changing vowels relative to each other. Speakers were partitioned into groups depending on their generation and patterns of raising.  Measures included F1, F2, and duration at three temporal locations, allowing modeling of vowel trajectory. However, comparisons primarily utilize an overlap metric (Wassink 2006) that allows detection of differences between the volumes of vowel ellipsoids, providing an objective heuristic for approximation of vowel distributions. We find evidence supporting the conclusion that (eyg)-class forms are reanalyzed in a process of merger by transfer, while the phonological story for (æg) is much more complex. Here, we will see that the data force us to consider the import of vowel trajectory information for the maintenance of phonetic distinction.

Labov, W. (1994). Principles of linguistic change:  Internal factors (Blackwell, Oxford).
Wassink, A. B., (2006) “A geometric representation of spectral and temporal vowel features: Quantification of vowel overlap in three varieties,” J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 119(4), pp 2334-2350

Academic job search meeting Friday, 5/23, 3:30PM

(From Robin:)

What:  Workshop on the academic job application process

Where:  Greenberg

When:  Friday, 23 May, 3:30-4:45

Who:  Geared towards those who’ll be on the market soon, but all are welcome

Grad students:

Faculty: Complementary perspectives will be offered by Dan Lassiter (only recently on the market himself) and Beth Levin (frequent search committee member).

This session will be largely overview. Then those of us starting to work on application materials might like to get together as a smaller group a few times this summer or fall to workshop our actual work-in-progress documents (research statement, teaching statement, CV).

QP Fest April 25: Save the date!

Our annual QP Fest will be the afternoon of Friday, April 25. Stay tuned for all the details in an upcoming issue.