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Tuesday Seminar: Leah Pappas, Katherine Strong, Thomas Kettig

10-Oct-2017 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Speakers: Leah Pappas; Katherine Strong; Thomas Kettig
Date: 10/10 (Tues.), 12:00-1:15PM

Leah Pappas
Title: New Caledonia Preliminary Fieldwork
Abstract: New Caledonia is a French Overseas Territory and home to 28 Austronesian languages. Although many of these languages are dying as a result of French influence, the Kanak culture is still strong. This talk outlines the steps that must be taken by an outsider to be able to work with the Kanak people. It discusses the cultural and linguistic programs that exist in the province and the cultural practices that one must adhere to while making connections. Furthermore, this talk will share preliminary data on topological relations in four New Caledonian languages: Drehu, Cèmuhî, Paicî, and Nyelâyu.
Katherine Strong
Title: Serau Tet Kanowit: Language Documentation in Kampung Bedil
Abstract: This presentation reports on the preliminary stage of the Serau Tet Kanowit Documentation Project. Serau Kanowit, or the Kanowit language, is an endangered and under-described language spoken in Central Sarawak, Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. I will introduce the primary partners involved in the project, provide language and geographical background, and discuss concrete goals, outcomes, and next steps for the project. Further discussion will center around sociolinguistics and the multi-glossic environment in which serau Kanowit is spoken. To conclude, I will briefly share my experience with mental health while in the field, in an effort to shed light on the challenges many field linguists face.
Thomas Kettig
Title: The social evaluation of TRAP-backing in Montreal
Abstract: The backness of TRAP has been demonstrated to vary by speaker age and gender in many parts of the United States and Canada, including California (Kennedy & Grama 2012), Montreal (Kettig & Winter 2017), and Hawaiʻi (Drager et al. 2013). In each of these places, younger people and women lead in the ongoing retraction of TRAP from [æ] toward [a] (reduced F2). While work in California has indicated that TRAP-backing may be indexed with casual ‘Valley Girl’ and formal professional personae (D’Onofrio 2015), its social meanings in other locales remain little-investigated.
In this matched-guise experiment, L1 English speaking young adults from Montreal, Hawaiʻi, and California (1M, 1F per region) were recorded reading a sentence; vowel resynthesis in the word map produced a retracted and an unretracted guise from the same recording from each speaker, differing by 200 Hz in F2. Forty-six young adult L1 English participants in Montreal (11 male) completed a task rating speakers’ perceived physical and social attributes.
Bayesian linear hierarchical modeling indicates that female listeners judge retracted stimuli as more authoritative in women’s voices, while men judge male speakers’ unretracted guises as more authoritative. Overall, female unretracted and male retracted guises are rated as friendlier. Female listeners identify retracted male, but not female, guises as younger-sounding.
Though we are still in the initial stages of data analysis, we can identify some tentative initial results. While men’s shiftedness may be judged as reliably indicating age, women seem to associate TRAP-backing with authoritative, less-friendly characteristics in other women. In the course of a female-led sound shift, speakers – especially women – may be more attuned to women’s style shifting, and may diverge from men in their social evaluations.
D’Onofrio, A. 2015. Perceiving personae: Effects of social information on perceptions of TRAP-backing. UPenn Working Papers in Linguistics 21(2):31–39.
Drager, K, M. J. Kirtley, J. Grama & S. Simpson. 2013. Language variation and change in Hawai‘i English: KIT, DRESS, and TRAP. UPenn Working Papers in Linguistics 19(2):41–50.
 Kennedy, R & J. Grama. 2012. Chain shifting and centralization in California vowels: An acoustic analysis. American Speech 87(1):39–56.
Kettig, T. & B. Winter. 2017. Producing and perceiving the Canadian Vowel Shift: Evidence from a Montreal community. Language Variation & Change 29:79–100.


Department of Linguistics


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