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Recap of Week 2

Just like in Week 1, we take the time to recap on this week’s content and to provide you with a list of terms you have learned about this week.

This week’s focus was on methods in sociolinguistic research and we started out learning about linguistic variables and how you can have different ways of saying the same thing. We learned about linguistic factors by looking at the glottal stop and talked about the differentiation between explicit and implicit attitudes.

We also learned about different approaches to collecting data about language attitudes, such as SCAT or matched guise tests, and were able to reflect critically on them. We then ended the week with an analysis of our own speech data and discussed the results.

Below is a glossary of terms that were introduced this week.

Ethics: It is crucial to consider how research might affect whoever is involved and it is necessary to get permission to conduct your research from your university or institution (Step 2.5).

Explicit attitudes: attitudes that people have about language that they are aware of (Step 2.6).

Geographical Association Test: investigates listener sensitivity to localised accent features and is a useful addition to a researcher’s toolkit should they want to investigate sociolinguistic patterns in accents or dialects (Step 2.8).

Glottal stop: an ‘uh’ sound replacing the ‘t’ sound in words like ‘water’ or ‘butter’; its International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbol is [ʔ] (Step 2.4 and Step 2.12).

Implicit attitudes: a person’s instinctive, immediate reaction to seeing or hearing language based on their personal life experiences and stereotypes (Step 2.6).

Implicit Association Test: a test where people are asked to pair a particular group to a positive or negative trait in order to find out about their implicit attitudes, e.g. categorising speakers of Glaswegian English as being polite or impolite (Step 2.6).

Linguistic variable: different ways of saying the same thing, e.g. the various terms in existence to talk about a ‘bread roll’ or the meal ‘dinner’ (Step 2.3).

Matched guise test: the speech from the same speaker is used in various recordings, but the same speaker changes the accent they use in their speech, which enables researchers to have better control over the more individualistic properties of people’s voices (Step 2.10).

Perceptual dialectology: a method used to explore how non-linguists see regional language variation, e.g. where they perceive accent/dialect boundaries to lie geographically and how they feel about people who speak in particular ways, which provides insights into language and social attitudes (Step 2.7).

Sample size: how many people you study in your research. (Step 2.5).

Sampling: how researchers go about selecting their participants, e.g. randomly choosing, or focusing on a specific community (Step 2.5).

Sense relation networks: participants in an experiment are given a few keywords and are then asked to come up with words which mean the same thing as the keywords, and are later interviewed about what they have written (Step 2.10).

Social Category Association Test: an adaptation of the Implicit Association Test, which looks at the degree to which members of a speech community share an association between a particular pronunciation (such as pronouncing the ‘r sound in the word ‘car’) and a social category (such as ‘Scotland’), and which can show if a particular pronunciation does carry social meaning, e.g. if there is an agreement about associating the ‘r’ sound with Scotland (Step 2.9).

Variant: distinct regional terms and all the different ways that a variable can be produced, e.g. the ‘a’ sound in words like ‘grass’ which can be pronounced in different ways (Step 2.3).

Verbal guise test: an experiment design where participants listen to different speakers with different regional accents reading out the same text and then assess various qualities, e.g. friendliness or intelligence, related to the voices that they hear (Step 2.10).

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An Introduction to Sociolinguistics: Accents, Attitudes and Identity

University of York

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