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Towards an Integrated Perceptual Sociolinguistics

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Title: Towards an Integrated Perceptual Sociolinguistics
Author: Sullivan, Colin
Advisor: Harrison, K. David
Department: Swarthmore College. Dept. of Linguistics
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2007
Abstract: How is it possible that we can tell whether someone is from New York City or Texas or Minnesota simply by listening to their speech? The fact that ordinary people have no trouble with this task is a minor miracle! Sociolinguists and dialectologists have ignored the ability of naïve listeners to distinguish one dialect from another and to attach them to a specific geographical region. Recent work done by Clopper (2004), Preston (1999), and Thomas (2002), has begun to address the role of perception in dialect recognition, synthesizing techniques from phonetics, psychology, and even forensics. The New Integrated Perceptual Sociolinguistics (IPS) research indicates that naïve listeners accumulate knowledge about language variation and are able to apply this knowledge to wide variety of tasks relating to dialect perception. This paper reviews these studies and other previous research in perceptual dialectology and sociophonetic work, and discusses their experimental methodologies. Using this information as background, I designed a pilot experiment involving dialect perception by naïve listeners. The goal of this paper is to investigate naïve intuitive knowledge of dialects from a perceptual perspective in the hopes of scrutinizing our instinctive knowledge about language variation.
Subject: Dialectology
Subject: Sociolinguistics
Access Restrictions: Open Access
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Sullivan, Colin. "Towards an Integrated Perceptual Sociolinguistics". 2007. Available electronically from

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