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A tale of one city: A sociophonetic study of 100+ years of Glaswegian vernacular

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Sociophonetic research unites the social and the phonetic in terms of theory, method and practice (e.g. Foulkes and Docherty 2006; Foulkes 2010). Insights can be gained from placing phonetic and phonological findings within their social context. Recent advances in phonetic methods can enhance our descriptions and understanding of speech in practice. This talk illustrates the rewards of doing sociophonetic research by considering a case study which takes a particular sociological context, Glasgow, a large industrial city over the 20th century, and examines phonological variation and change over the same period in its vernacular dialect (Stuart-Smith et al in press 2017; Stuart-Smith et al in press 2017; Sounds of the City). Specifically I will present findings from novel phonetic investigation into three areas of the consonantal system, coda /r l/ (cf Stuart-Smith et al 2015), fricatives /s ʃ/ (cf Stuart-Smith 2007), and the stop voicing contrast /b d t d k g/ (cf Stuart-Smith et al 2015). The results demonstrate how sound changes are linked with the changing social context in which they occur for this speech community over time. They also show how the inclusion of social information can enhance our understanding of phonetic and phonological processes more generally.


Foulkes, Paul, and Gerard Docherty. 2006. The social life of phonetics and phonology. Journal of phonetics 34: 409-438.

Foulkes, Paul. 2010. Exploring social-indexical knowledge: A long past but a short history. Laboratory Phonology 1: 5-39.

Stuart-Smith, Jane, Jose, Brian, Rathcke, Tamara, Macdonald, Rachel, and Lawson, Eleanor. In press 2017. Changing sounds in a changing city: An acoustic phonetic investigation of realtime change across a century of Glaswegian. In: Emma Moore and Chris Montgomery (eds.) Language and a Sense of Place. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Stuart-Smith, Jane, and Lawson, Eleanor. In press 2017. Scotland: Glasgow and the Central Belt. In: Ray Hickey. (ed.) Listening to the Past. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Stuart-Smith, Jane, Sonderegger, Morgen, Rathcke, Tamara, & Macdonald, Rachel. 2015. The private life of stops: VOT in a real-time corpus of spontaneous Glaswegian. Laboratory Phonology 6: 505- 549.

Stuart-Smith, Jane, Lennon, Robert, Macdonald, Rachel, Robertson, Duncan, Soskuthy, Marton, Jose, Brian, & Evers, Ludger. 2015. A Dynamic Acoustic View of Real-Time Change in Word-Final Liquids in Spontaneous Glaswegian. Proceedings of ICPhS 2015, Glasgow.

Stuart-Smith, Jane. 2007. Empirical evidence for gendered speech production: /s/ in Glaswegian. Laboratory Phonology 9: 65-86

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