Social information, phonetic reduction, and predictability in the speech signal

Cynthia Clopper - Department of Linguistics - Ohio State University

Social information, phonetic reduction, and predictability in the speech signal

Cynthia Clopper  – Department of Linguistics –  Ohio State University

Predictable words, where predictability is defined in general (e.g., as lexical frequency) or in a particular context (e.g., as bigram or cloze probability), tend to be phonetically reduced relative to less predictable words. In addition, predictable words tend to exhibit stronger sociolinguistic identity-marking than less predictable words. Both of these patterns of findings can be interpreted as the result of the talker tracking word predictability and producing less linguistically informative, but more socially informative, variants when the word is highly predictable. In a series of recent acoustic analyses in my lab, we have examined how various combinations of predictability effects (e.g., frequency, bigram probability, cloze probability, discourse mention) interact with one another and with region of origin in the realization of vowel variation across varieties of American English. The results reveal complex, non-additive interactions, which point to possible underlying processing differences within the examined set of predictability effects, as well as within the examined set of sociolinguistic variables.

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Cynthia Clopper: CV