Workshop 'Perception and Attitude'

Workshop organised as part of the 6th International Conference on Language Variation in Europe (ICLaVE) in Freiburg, Germany, June 29 to July 1 2011

Organizers: Stefanie Jannedy (ZAS Berlin) & Melanie Weirich (ZAS Berlin)

Speech perception research has traditionally dealt with the systematic exploration of sound categorizations and sound identification, not taking into account the implicit expectations connected with the inferred producer of the stimulus. Today it is evident, that listeners categorize speech not in a vacuum but by attributing speaker characteristics which may be manipulated through explicit and even very subtle implicit information on the origin of the stimulus (Pierrehumbert, 2001; Hay et al., 2006a).

For example, listeners from Detroit were presented with synthesized stimuli of vowels and heard more ‘Canadian Raising’ when they believed the speaker was Canadian as opposed to from Detroit (Niedzielski, 1999). Thus, depending on who the listeners believed the speaker was, they showed differential identification patterns for the stimuli. This study has been replicated for New Zealand versus Australian English (Hay et al., 2006) and has sparked research on the differential perception in dependence to other inferred social factors such as nationality (Hay & Drager, 2010; Hay et al. 2006a), gender (Strand, 1999; Levon, 2006, 2007), age (Drager, 2011) or the perceived social class of the speaker (Hay et al., 2006b). Thus, recent research has shown that speech categorization is highly influenced by the perceived, inferred or even assumed background and social characteristics of the speaker. It is also not fully understood yet what role different groups of listeners and their attitudes towards the inferred origin of the stimulus play in the categorization of speech.

This workshop wants to bring together socio-phoneticians and those working at the interface of speech perception and language attitude to explore and discuss ethodologies and results of cross-linguistic perception experiments varying social factors and the information provided to listeners. We hope to increase our knowledge of how these two complex systems of human sociality and language interact to understand the workings of these attribution processes, how and in what way stereotypes are exploited in speech perception, and just what kinds of cues trigger or undo social clichés that are based on speech. Specific issues to be addressed are:

  1. Role of the listeners’ social backgrounds as a factor in speech categorization
  2. Categorization of speech stimuli in dependence to the inferred speaker
  3. Differences in speech categorization due to subtle nonverbal (e.g. visual) cues
  4. Attitude towards the speaker due to inferred group membership of the speaker
  5. What social factors can be varied and how?
  6. Which phonetic subtleties are detectable by listeners?

Speakers:

  • Stefanie Jannedy & Melanie Weirich (ZAS Berlin): Introduction to Panel/Motivation of Topic/Introduction of Speakers
  • Katie Drager (U Hawaii, Manoa): Social Information and Speech Perception
  • Erez Levon (Queen Mary, U London): Categories and stereotypes: Perceiving the intersection of gender, sexuality and social class in language
  • Jillian Cavanaugh (Brooklyn College): Language Ideologies and Language Attitudes: A Linguistic Anthropological Perspective
  • Gerry Docherty (U Newcastle, UK): Perspectives on the perceptual evaluation of sociophonetic variation
  • Valerie Purdie-Vaughns (Columbia U, New York) & Ruth Ditlmann (Yale U): Through the mirror of language: A social psychologist’s perspective on language, speech patterns and accents and their implications for intergroup relations

External workshop page: http://www.iclave.uni-freiburg.de/panels_iclave/panel-4-perception-and-attitude