Kathryn Campbell-Kibler Colloquium

April 28
3:30 - 5:00pm
Pick 016
Ohio State University
Sociolinguistic perception and introspective awareness
A common critique of the third wave of variation has been that it grants speakers unrealistic amounts of agency, saddling them with an impossibly complex task. In the third wave approach, virtually all language features have at least the potential to be linked to a dizzying universe of locally constructed social objects. Speakers produce and understand these linguistic resources, in ways that often support personal beliefs and goals, in real time. Given that language production and perception takes place extraordinarily rapidly, it seems an impossible task. And yet, third wave studies, particularly in production, have repeatedly documented that speakers do perform this feat, admittedly imperfectly. How are they able to do it?
One key to answering this question lies in understanding sociolinguistic knowledge systemsand how they differ, particularly their availability to introspective observation and/or deliberative control. Variables treated differently by these systems are often contrasted in sociolinguistics as differing in "salience" or "awareness". I will discuss past and current understandings of these terms, and present results from two experimental studies which explore introspective awareness and deliberative control in the context of sociolinguistic perception. The first investigates listeners' ability to form a social perception while ignoring information from a given modality (visual or audio) when instructed to do so. The second asks whether explicitly reported beliefs about regional accents are correlated across listeners with sensitivity to accents found in that region. The talk will close with a mild rant on the rampant ambiguity in the term "salience" as used in sociolinguistics.