Variation is a ubiquitous feature of speech, yet much of the variation observed is non-random. This class will examine this type of structured heterogeneity (Weinreich et al., 1968) from the point of view of sociophonetics. We will focus on the interrelationships between phonetic/phonological form and social factors such as speaking style and the background of the speaker, with a particular interest in explaining the origins and transmission of linguistic change. Our goals will be to (a) acquire the phonetic and phonological foundation necessary to conduct sociophonetic research through practical exercises; (b) survey new sociolinguistic research that addresses issues in phonetic and phonological theories and (c) locate and explain phonetic variation in its social context while drawing on current approaches to the relationship between language and society. This course will give students hands-on experience with sociophonetic research. As part of the empirical foundation of this course, we will focus on sociophonetic variation across the Chicago population. For the final project, students are required to conduct a small-scale study investigating a research question of relevance to sociophonetic research using the corpus collected during this quarter.
Alan Yu -- Winter 2021