Tag Archives: Historical/Change
Attitudes, Ideologies, Variation, and Change

Dennis Preston – Oklahoma State University
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 9:00-10:50 am
1401 Mason Hall

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Research about beliefs about language and reactions to it has gone beyond interest in such matters for their own sake, and researchers have used internal, classificatory mechanisms related to attitudes and beliefs to explain both the deployment of linguistic resources and the paths of language change. This course will examine historical and current trends in the study of attitudes and ideologies with reference to their role in more structured accounts of language variation and change. We begin with Hymesian ethnographic studies and social psychological approaches to attitude as developed by Lambert et al. Early uses of ideology and attitude in variationist studies will also be noted, and the continuation of the Hymesian tradition by linguistic anthropologists will be discussed. The course next elaborates on two recent turns — indexicality, as developed by Silverstein, and accounts of variability in linguistic theory, as suggested in attempts to build variable OT representations and the attaching of sociocultural information to forms in exemplar theory. The course also evaluates trends in both discoursal and experimental investigations. In the first, we look at content analyses, at linguistic anthropologists’ use of interaction in extracting ideologies from actions, and at more recent attempts to link attitudinal and ideological content to form in critical discourse analysis as well as proposals to link form and attitude by means of pragmatic analyses. Finally, we investigate task-based and experimental procedures in identifying and interpreting attitudes and ideologies, ranging from overt tasks such as those used in work on perceptual dialectology, including very recent uses of georeferencing techniques, to matched-guise and experimental response settings that seek to expose respondents’ unconscious reactions. We will look carefully at the design of experiments that relate attitudinal and ideological factors to structural elements, including techniques developed in social psychology in implicit research design. We conclude with an overview of the cognitive foundations of attitudinal and ideological processing, touching on acquisition, change, and deployment.

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Individual Differences in Sound Change

Jeff Mielke – University of Ottawa
Alan Yu – University of Chicago
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 11:00 am – 12:50 pm
2407 Mason Hall

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One of the great mysteries of linguistics is the so-called actuation problem, first articulated in Weinreich, Labov, and Herzog 1968, and still largely unanswered to this day. The question is what causes the inception of language change, if the linguistic conditions favoring particular changes are always present? Previous studies on sound change have mainly focused on group effects, that is, effects observed in a population as a whole. Recent work has drawn on interspeaker variation for a solution to the actuation puzzle. The main impetus for considering individual differences in the context of sound change comes from the need to build a linking theory that bridges the gap between the emergence of new linguistic variants and their eventual propagation.

This course will explore sources of individual linguistic differences, and the role they may play in the initiation and propagation of sound change.  Idiosyncratic variation provides an opportunity to understand the limits and flexibility of the human capacity for language, and to better understand the observed properties of natural languages, which are systems that must be shared by individuals who differ from each other in important ways.  We will focus on three types of individual-level factors that have been implicated in language variation and change, namely covert linguistic/phonetic differences (e.g., differences in lexicon, articulation, and cue weighting), social-attitudinal matters, and neuro-cognitive factors.

Students enrolling in this course should have at least one course in phonetics and/or phonology.

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