American Dialect Society Logo in blue, white, and red

University of Georgia Linguistics Faculty and Graduate Students presented at the 2020 American Dialect Society annual conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, January 2-5, 2020.

Dr. William A. Kretzschmar, Dr. Margaret Renwick, Joseph Stanley, Katie Kuiper, Lisa Lipani, Michael Olsen, and Rachel Olsen: "The View of Southern Vowels from Large-Scale Data."

Abstract: We have extracted c. 2 million tokens of vowels from a rigorous sample of 64 speakers across the American South in an NSF-funded project for forced alignment and automatic formant extraction. We will show how our vowel measurements across the whole region differ from national mean F1/F2 scores, from the meta-analysis reported by Kent and Read 2002, which will create a Southern baseline. In this paper, we will we will cover the entire vowel system, and also inspect social differences between the groups and subareas within the Southern region. Our findings offer complex picture that, together, represents the South.

Rachel Olsen: "Social identity is a pitch: Expressing who you are through prosody."

Abstract: This work explores how humans use the prosodic element of pitch to communicate aspects of social identity such as gender, ethnicity, and region of birth. The DASS corpus, an extensive collection of historical semi-spontaneous southern U.S. speech, was orthographically transcribed and force-aligned, and f0 measurements at 20-35-50-65-80% of the way through each stressed vowel were automatically collected. Examination of the pitch trajectories reveals differences in pitch range and shape along social and regional lines. These results suggest there are prosodic elements at work below the level of the intonational phrase that communicate regional and social information in naturalistic speech.

Margaret Renwick and Jonathan Jones: "Heterogeneity in Southern speech: Evidence from the Mississippi Delta."

Abstract: GIS mapping and spatial analysis show that Mississippi Delta speech has a distinct implementation of Southern vowel features. We test acoustic data from the Digital Archive of Southern Speech (DASS) for Southern features identified by the Atlas of North American English (ANAE). Spatial analysis in GeoDa used the Local Moran’s I method to identify speaker clusters and outliers. Mapped results (at https://arcg.is/1WXHvv) show that the Mississippi Delta differs from ANAE descriptions and from other DASS states. Delta speakers cluster together for features including feel-fill and fail-fell mergers, /æ/-diphthongization, /ɔɪ/-monophthongization, and /aʊ/-fronting: overall, their participation in these ANAE features is low.