LaVaLi goes UKLVC13

taken from the UKLVC13 website

This September, the linguistics conference UK language variation and change 13 took place (virtually) in Glasgow, and our LaVaLi team had a blast! Over the course of three days, more than 100 linguists presented their research on language variation and change, sociolinguistics and dialectology, and received applause and feedback from their peers. It was super exciting to hear about all the new approaches and insights our colleagues reported on!

Of course, the LaVaLi team was in attendance – this was the first time we got to present on a whole smörgasbord of research happening within the project, including individual work towards MA or PhD theses as well as larger joint research endeavours. This blog post briefly summarises our poster presentations and talks.

Johanna Mechler on the perception of ING across the lifespan

On the first day of UKLVC13, Johanna Mechler gave a talk about how we perceive age and professionalism when we listen to people. The initial results of her study showed that listeners rate older speakers more professional than younger speakers, and we can’t wait for further studies! If you want to read more, check out Johanna’s blog post here.

Anne-Marie Mölders: Investigating language change across the life span: a real-time panel study of hyper -s and first-person singular possessive in north-eastern English
The LaVaLi team was also represented with a whopping three posters on the second day of the conference, offering the attendees a whole room on different aspects of lifespan change in the North East of England. Anne-Marie Mölders presented her MA thesis work on the social costliness of making use of hyper-s and/or stigmatized possessive pronouns. She finds that variation and change for these variables are related to the social gain and loss that comes with using them for different speakers. Make sure to check out her blog post here if you want to read more about her research.

click on the image to see the poster in full!

Mirjam Eiswirth: Of repetitions and changes
Mirjam Eiswirth introduced us to her study focusing on variation in ING realisations in interaction, specifically in moments where speakers format tie (i.e. repeat part of what the other person has just said). She finds that the velar variant [ŋ] is used in the repeated utterance when the speaker draws attention to what they are saying, and when they are performing a certain type of persona. Speakers do not converge to the other’s use of the velar form though. This lack of other-priming can explain the relative stability of ING in the young panel, while the style- and persona-related shifts can account for the variability of the feature. Watch out for Mirjam’s blog post in the near future.

click on the image to see the poster in full!

A team effort: ING across the lifespan
Finally, Lea Bauernfeind, Johanna Mechler, James Grama, Mirjam Eiswirth and Isabelle Buchstaller presented their research on how the variable ING patterns across the lifespans of older and younger speakers. Interestingly, we see that the older speakers change much in regard to their way of saying words like running or laughing over the course of their lives, but the younger ones don’t. We’re intrigued to find out more about the underlying motifs for saying words with ING one way or the other!

click on the image to see the poster in full!

Another team effort: FACE and GOAT across the lifespan
On the last day of conference, James Grama, Isabelle Buchstaller, Lea Bauernfeind and Carina Ahrens gave a talk on how the vowels in FACE and GOAT are produced by speakers of Tyneside English and how the speakers change across their lives. We also observe that speakers develop different language patterns as they get older, depending on which paths of life they choose.

Aside from the fact that we enjoyed sharing our research with the sociolinguistic community in the UK, we took a huge amount of inspiration and energy from all the other excellent talks. UKLVC13 was a truly enriching experience – the 10-minute talks and especially the poster sessions on spatial worked really well in this online format and it was lovely to actually get to engage with fellow scholars online. A big thank you to the organisers of UKLVC13 @uklvc13 (Emma Laird @itsemmalaird, Edward Marshall @E_JMarshall, Jane Stuart-Smith @jhstuartsmith, and Jennifer Smith) – and we can’t wait to see you all again for UKLVC14 in Edinburgh in 2023!

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The FOOT-STRUT Split: “Could” and “Cut” – Does the FOOT-STRUT Split Change over Time?

by Carina Ahrens

Do you say /kʊd/ and /kʌd/ or do you say /kʊd/ and /kʊd/? Listen to these sound snippets, can you tell the difference in the vowels of the two speakers (look out for the words book, just and mud)? In my BA thesis, I conduct a panel study, looking at the FOOT-STRUT split of one speaker over three time points. Weiterlesen

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Look at your FACE! – Tracing variation and change in vowels across the lifespan in Tyneside English

by Lea Bauernfeind

Dear reader,
Welcome to our blog about lifespan change in Tyneside English! If you’ve read some of our earlier blogposts, welcome back! You might already know about our corpus of Tyneside English and what we are interested in (if not, do check out the other blog posts 😉 ).
My MA thesis, like many of the theses you’ve already read about, centres around variation and change in Tyneside English. I investigate how and how much the vowels in words that sound like FACE and GOAT have changed over the lifespan of individual speakers and in how far these speakers adhere to the trends in their speech community. Weiterlesen

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From the sound of your voice I thought you were older! – Language perception across different age groups

by Johanna Mechler

Have you ever heard a voice on air and immediately had a really clear image of the person in your mind, but when you saw a photo, they looked completely different? Maybe the person was actually younger or older than you had expected. This happens to all of us! How we perceive voices and how we connect them to ideas about who we think that person is, is a really complex process. Weiterlesen

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“I sound like a posh Geordie” – Language change away from the community

by Marie Philipp

Can changes in our lives evoke changes in our language patterns? In my BA thesis, I’m looking at young speakers who – at the time of the sociolinguistic interviews – were students at university. This stage of life is called emergent adulthood and is often associated with instability and changes, for example in an individual’s social environment, in their workplace, or regarding their socioeconomic status. In previous research on language change, emergent adulthood has only been investigated scarcely because it was assumed that speakers stay stable in their linguistic patterns after puberty. However, studies have shown that language change can in fact occur after this assumed stabilisation. Weiterlesen

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“The sister that lives next door is ninety-two or something” – A longitudinal study of the grammar of Tyneside English

by Deborah Veiter

We can trace how the grammar of a language varies in speakers and across time by looking at changes in sentence and word structure. These (types of) changes sometimes imply that different grammatical constructions can co-exist. Weiterlesen

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“The people’s changed”- How though? Investigating language change across the lifespan in Newcastle English

by Anne-Marie Mölders

Does our age influence the way we speak? The short answer is: yes! As we age, we are influenced by certain linguistic pressures which means that we try to avoid forms that people associate with negative stereotypes. Weiterlesen

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Toasting One Year of LaVaLi!


This year, we are celebrating the first anniversary of our LaVaLi project. The DFG-funded project Tracing Language Variation and Change across the Lifespan is run by principal investigator Prof. Dr. Isabelle Buchstaller and her team consisting of postdocs Dr. Mirjam Eiswirth and Dr. James Grama, as well as PhD student Johanna Mechler.

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