Mobile people, mobile vowels: What accent changes can tell us about the linguistic system, and how to study them -Jennifer Nycz (Georgetown University).

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You don't need linguistics training to observe that people sometimes change their accent after moving to a new region, adjusting their speech to become more similar to that of the ambient dialect. But for understanding the details of how and why such change happens - which sounds shift and which stay put, what linguistic factors favor or disfavor change, and the social motivations underlying these patterns - the linguist's diverse theoretical and methodological toolkit is a valuable resource. In this talk I will argue that studies of accent change due to mobility (or "second dialect acquisition") can also speak to key questions in sociophonetics and contribute to phonological debates about how words and sounds are represented. I'll also discuss some of the methodological issues that arise in the study of accent change over the lifespan, and ways to address them.

To illustrate these points, I will present findings from my work examining the speech of native Torontonians living in New York City and native New Yorkers who have moved to Toronto. I’ll focus specifically on variation and change in these speakers’ vowel systems, and paint a (somewhat paradoxical) picture of phonetically and lexically gradient dialect change occurring against a backdrop of structural stability. Finally, I'll discuss what these findings suggest about phonological representations and change, and avenues for future research.

Jennifer Nycz (Georgetown University)
Sala 261, Prédio das Letras
Data de Início
Data de Término
Professor(es) Responsável(eis)
Prof. Dr. Ronald Beline Mendes
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