Structured heterogeneity in Scottish stops over the 20th Century

Sonderegger, M., Stuart-Smith, J. , Knowles, T., Macdonald, R. and Rathcke, T. (2020) Structured heterogeneity in Scottish stops over the 20th Century. Language, 96(1), pp. 94-125. (doi: 10.1353/lan.2020.0003)

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Abstract

How and why speakers differ in the phonetic implementation of phonological contrasts, and the relationship of this ‘structured heterogeneity’ to language change, has been a key focus over fifty years of variationist sociolinguistics. In phonetics, interest has recently grown in uncovering ‘structured variability’—how speakers can differ greatly in phonetic realization in nonrandom ways—as part of the long-standing goal of understanding variability in speech. The English stop voicing contrast, which combines extensive phonetic variability with phonological stability, provides an ideal setting for an approach to understanding structured variation in the sounds of a community’s language that illuminates both synchrony and diachrony. This article examines the voicing contrast in a vernacular dialect (Glasgow Scots) in spontaneous speech, focusing on individual speaker variability within and across cues, including over time. Speakers differ greatly in the use of each of three phonetic cues to the contrast, while reliably using each one to differentiate voiced and voiceless stops. Interspeaker variability is highly structured: speakers lie along a continuum of use of each cue, as well as correlated use of two cues—voice onset time and closure voicing—along a single axis. Diachronic change occurs along this axis, toward a more aspiration-based and less voicing-based phonetic realization of the contrast, suggesting an important connection between synchronic and diachronic speaker variation.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Work reported in this article was supported by the Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada (#430-2014-00018, #435-2017-0925) and the Fonds de Recherche du Québec Société et Culture (#183356).
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Macdonald, Dr Rachel and Stuart-Smith, Professor Jane and Rathcke, Dr Tamara and Sonderegger, Professor Morgan
Authors: Sonderegger, M., Stuart-Smith, J., Knowles, T., Macdonald, R., and Rathcke, T.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PD Germanic languages
P Language and Literature > PE English
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Journal Name:Language
Publisher:Linguistic Society of America
ISSN:0097-8507
ISSN (Online):1535-0665
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Language 96(1):94-125
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
559031Fine phonetic variation and sound change: a real-time study of GlaswegianJane Stuart-SmithLeverhulme Trust (LEVERHUL)RPG-142CRIT - ENGLISH LANGUAGE & LINGUISTICS