LaVaLi at CLARe6

Some of us got to spend three sunny days in Tübingen at CLARe6 – the Conference on Language and Aging Research – presenting our current LaVaLi-related research. 

Anne-Marie Moelders and Isabelle Buchstaller presented on “Quotative Variation Across the Life-Span”. Their paper focuses on quotative be like, which shows a gendered effect across the  life-span, with female speakers increasing and male speakers decreasing their be like usage as they age. This confirms how stereotyped the variable is: there are several x/twitter threads by users complaining about how much they hate it when people use be like.

Next up, Anne and Isa presented “The stylistic correlates of ageing”, also on behalf of their co-authors Lea Bauernfeind and James Grama, highlighting the complex relationship between aging and style. They find that speakers in their 30s change the most as they grow older, and they are also the ones who produce the greatest variation in the ways in which they say “my dog” or “my face” related to the topics they speak about.

Johanna Mechler’s talk “Age and Gender Effects in Evaluating Younger and Older Voices” covered her cross-regional perception experiment, part of which she already presented at a Feminist Conversations event last year. While the results show only minimal differences between US and UK listeners, they indicate both an age and gender effect: Middle-aged male speakers are perceived as more professional and intelligent than younger males and females, who receive lower ratings overall. On the other hand, female speakers receive significantly higher friendliness and trustworthiness ratings than male speakers.

In the final poster session, Hannah Sawall and Isa presented the poster “Intensive Change Across the Life-Span?” also on behalf of their co-authors Lea, Yasmina Bouziani, and Elisavet Kyriakoudi. They showed how both the speaker community and speakers across their adult life-span change their use of the English intensifier system (intensifiers are modifying words like very, really, so) with ongoing competition between different intensifiers.

Our days were packed with insightful talks and discussions, lovely conversations, and probably the best conference food we’ve ever had! We would like to thank the organizers for doing a fantastic job and look forward to CLARe7 in 2026!

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