Social Categories, Grammatical Categories, and the Likelihood of by lindash

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                                        Social Categories, Grammatical Categories,
                                  and the Likelihood of “Like” Monophthongisation
                                                                           Katie Drager
                                                                Department of Linguistics
                                                           University of Canterbury, New Zealand
                                                              katie.drager@canterbury.ac.nz

                                                                               Abstract
                                The speech of girls at a high school in New Zealand was analysed after spending one
                                year at the school conducting interviews with the girls. Expressions of identity and
                                social group membership have been identified. One dichotomy among the social
                                grouping of the girls is where they choose to eat lunch, namely whether they eat lunch
                                in the common room or not. This paper investigates phonetic differences for the word
                                like among its different grammatical categories. It also investigates whether a
                                particular girl’s realisation of the word like can be predicted by whether or not she
                                eats lunch in the common room. It appears that girls who eat lunch in the common
                                are significantly more likely to have monophthongisation in the word like, and that
                                this is especially true for quotative like. These results suggest that it is necessary to
                                have a model of speech production which can account for socially ascribed phonetic
                                variation within a single word which has different grammatical categories.



                                                                                             like significantly predict the phonetic variation
                                  1. Introduction                                            found in the data.
             The social categories that are normally employed by
             sociolinguists, namely ethnicity, age, gender, and                                                   2. School Life
             social class, are not always those that are most
             relevant to a particular group of speakers (Eckert                              I focused on students in their 13th and final year of
             1989, 2000; Mendoza-Denton 1997). In order to                                   school. Through observation and conversations
             identify relevant group membership categories at a                              with the girls, I was able to identify their tight-knit
             high school, Eckert (1989, 2000) utilised an                                    social groups.        Although younger students
             ethnographic approach and found that variants in the                            sometimes change their group affiliation, group
             students’ speech were closely linked to social                                  membership is fairly set by the time the girls begin
             identification as either a ‘jock’ or a ‘burnout’.                               year 13. Standards of clothing, hair, and jewellery
             Mendoza-Denton (1997) found that gang members’                                  are established and followed by fellow group
             realisation of the vowel /I/ could be predicted by                              members so that they are strong identifiers of social
             how central to the gang a particular girl was. Such                             group membership.
             insights as Eckert’s and Mendoza-Denton’s would                                      Another important identifier is where the girls
             not have been reached without conducting                                        generally sit during their morning break and during
             ethnographic work prior to linguistic analysis. With                            lunchtime. While each group has a distinctive area
             the aim of understanding the relationship between                               of the school grounds in which they eat during
             linguistic variants and relevant social group                                   sunny weather, there is a binary distinction between
             membership within a New Zealand context, I have                                 the students when the weather is cold and rainy.
             conducted a year long ethnographic study at an all                              Hence the independent social variable in this paper
             girls’ high school in Christchurch.                                             is whether a group sometimes eats lunch in the
                   This paper reports on an auditory and acoustic                            common room, a space with chairs, beanbags, and a
             analysis of the realisation of the word like, which is                          microwave which has been set aside specifically for
             a frequent lexical item in the girls’ speech. In this                           all year 13 students, though not every student
             lexical item, both the /l/ and the /k/ are variably                             chooses to use it.
             present. Additionally, the vowel can be optionally
             monophthongised and/or glottalised. The results
             presented in this paper concentrate on the variation                                               3. Like Functions
             in vowel monophthongisation. I conclude that both
             the social make-up of the girls at the school and the                           The multiple functions of the lexeme like have been
             grammatical category of a particular utterance of                               the topic of much debate (Schourup 1983; Underhill
                                                                                             1988; Biber, Johansson, Leech, Conrad, and




Proceedings of the 11th Australian International Conference on Speech Science & Technology, ed. Paul Warren & Catherine I. Watson. ISBN 0 9581946 2 9
University of Auckland, New Zealand. December 6-8, 2006. Copyright, Australian Speech Science & Technology Association Inc.

Accepted after abstract only review
                                                                                                                                                                             PAGE 385

             Finnigan 1999; Anderson 2001; D’Arcy 2006). For                                             using an open-source program, Transcriber (Barras
             this paper, I will focus on the different grammatical                                       1998-2000). OnzeMiner was used during analysis
             and discursive functions of like, as outlined by                                            in order to identify potential tokens for auditory and
             D’Arcy (2005). Examples presented here are taken                                            acoustic analysis (Fromont and Hay 2004).
             from D’Arcy (2005).                                                                              The speech of 12 girls was analysed, 7 of
                   Traditional, ‘grammatical’ functions of like                                          whom eat lunch in the common room. A total of
             include:                                                                                    831 tokens of like was analysed, 443 of which were
                                                                                                         produced by girls who do not eat lunch in the
                                                                                                         common room.
             Lexical verb: I don’t really LIKE her that much.                                                 Using both auditory and acoustic analysis,
                                                                                                         tokens were categorised based on the presence or
             Noun: He grew up with the LIKES of the company                                              absence of the /l/, the /k/, and whether or not the
             of all great fighters.                                                                      vowel was monophthongised.

             Preposition: It looks LIKE a snail; it just is a snail.
                                                                                                                                         5. Results
             Conjunction: It felt LIKE everything had dropped
             away.                                                                                       There is a large amount of variation across the
                                                                                                         different tokens of like, even within the speech of a
             Adverb: I don’t want to talk LIKE that.                                                     single speaker. /l/ and /k/ are variably present, and
                                                                                                         the vowel may be monophthongised and/or
             Suffix: He said I went “(mumbling)” or something                                            glottalised. Figures 1 and 2 display spectrograms
             like stroke-LIKE.                                                                           of two different tokens of like produced by the
                                                                                                         same speaker.

             Like also has discursive functions. They are as
             follows:                                                                             5000




             Discourse marker: LIKE my uncle’s sister married
                                                                                 Frequency (Hz)




             this guy, George-J.

             Discourse particle: She’s LIKE really smart.

             Approximate adverb: I was only LIKE forty-one
             or forty-two or something aye.

             Quotative: They’re LIKE, “Okay we’ll pay you                                           0
                                                                                                     0                                                            0.246553
             now.”                                                                                                                        Time (s)
                                                                                                              Figure 1: Spectrogram of like with a
                                                                                                              diphthong. The /l/ is present, but the /k/
             The various utterances of like recorded during                                                   is not.
             interviews at the school were assigned to one of the
             above categories. Because the grammatical
             functions of like appeared to be patterning similarly,                                                               5000
             they were combined into a single category (g).
             Likewise, the discursive functions, discourse marker
             and approximate adverb, seemed to be patterning
             similarly to one another, so they were combined into
                                                                                                                 Frequency (Hz)




             a single category (d). As a result, the analysis
             presented here focuses on four categories:
             grammatical (g), discursive (d), discourse particle,
             and quotative. Ambiguous tokens were not
             included in the analysis.

                                 4. Methodology
                                                                                                                                    0
             The interviews with the girls were informal                                                                             0
                                                                                                                                           Time (s)
                                                                                                                                                      0.0857596

             conversations without prepared questions and often
                                                                                                              Figure 2: Spectrogram of like with a
             with more than one a girl at a time. I played a very
             small role in the recorded conversations, and the
                                                                                                              monophthong. Neither the /l/ nor the /k/
             girls used the “interviews” as an opportunity to talk                                            is present.
             amongst themselves. As a result, the girls’ speech
             is very casual and contains a number of non-                                                Classification and Regression Tree (CART)
             standard syntactic and phonetic variants.                                                   analysis of the girls’ realisations of the word like
                   The recordings were made digitally using a                                            reveals that monophthongisation of the vowel can
             Marantz solid state recorder and were transcribed                                           be predicted on the basis of whether or not the girl
                                                                                                         who produced it is in a group that uses the year 13




Proceedings of the 11th Australian International Conference on Speech Science & Technology, ed. Paul Warren & Catherine I. Watson. ISBN 0 9581946 2 9
University of Auckland, New Zealand. December 6-8, 2006. Copyright, Australian Speech Science & Technology Association Inc.

Accepted after abstract only review
                                                                                                                                                           PAGE 386

             common room. Additionally, it can be predicted by                                   the vowel in like from other semantic-syntactic
             the presence or absence of the preceding /l/ and the                                categories, including other discursive functions.
             semantic-syntactic category of the particular                                       The difference between the realisation of quotative
             utterance of like.                                                                  and discourse particle like is particularly surprising
                   CART modelling involves trees which split at                                  given that they can occur in a similar position in a
             binary nodes when independent variables                                             sentence.
             significantly predict patterns in the dependent                                           Interestingly, it is not a single group who uses
             variable. Subsets of the data have the potential to                                 a monophthong in quotative like. The difference in
             branch into further binary nodes. As a result, lower                                realisations between the different types of like is
             nodes are significant predictors for only the                                       carried by girls in several different groups- all of
             particular subset of the data from which they                                       whom use the common room.
             branch.
                   As shown in the CART tree in Figure 3 where
             monophthongisation is treated as the dependent                                                        6. Discussion
             variable, the girls who choose not to use the
             common room are significantly less likely to                                        That monophthongisation for like is more likely to
             produce a monophthong in the word like than the                                     occur when the /l/ is not present is perhaps
             girls who use the common room. For those girls                                      unsurprising. As the /l/ is more and more reduced
             who do not use the common room, the grammatical                                     until it is no longer present, the vowel may also be
             category of like is not a significant predictor of                                  more reduced and transitions in the diphthong may
             monophthongisation.                                                                 not occur.
                                                                                                       What is surprising is that the likelihood of
                                                                                                 monophthongisation is significantly predicted by an
                                 CART Tree Model of Monophthongization
                                                                                                 interaction between

                                                                                                      a)   the social category of the girl (i.e.
                                          n                                                                whether the girl is in a group who eats in
                                          |
                                       697/134
                                                                                                           the common room) and
                        CommonRoom=no                                                                 b)   the grammatical category of like (i.e.
                                               CommonRoom=yes
                                                                                                           whether a particular instance of like is
                         n                                 n                                               quotative).
                       420/24                           277/110
                                                                                                 The girls who eat lunch in the common room are
                                           lpresent=y                                            significantly more likely to produce a monophthong
                                                                    lpresent=n
                                                                                                 for quotative like than for the other functions of
                                        n                                          y             like, and no such trend is found for girls who do not
                                      254/70                                     23/40           eat lunch in the common room. One interpretation
                                                                                                 of this interaction between social category and
                                                          grammatical=d,discparticle             grammatical category is based on exposure. In
                                                                             grammatical=quote   general, girls who eat lunch in the common room
                                                                   n                       y     interact much more frequently across the different
                                                                  10/4                   13/36   groups than the girls who do not eat lunch in the
                                                                                                 common room. In other words, groups who do not
                                                                                                 eat lunch in the common room have less contact
                                                                                                 with one another than the common room groups
                                                                                                 have with one another. This trend remains even
                                                                                                 when the common room groups are not actually in
                  Figure 3: A CART tree model of the
                                                                                                 the common room. The analysed data presented in
                  monophthongisation of the vowel in like.                                       this paper are taken from speech of girls from three
                  The reported numbers represent the number                                      different groups who eat lunch in the common and
                  of tokens, with those on the left                                              three different groups who do not eat lunch in the
                  representing tokens realised as diphthongs                                     common room. It is possible that the limited
                  (n) and those on the right representing                                        interaction between non-common room groups can
                  tokens realised as monophthongs (y).                                           account for the lack of shared phonetic variants for
                                                                                                 girls across these particular groups.
             For those girls who eat lunch in the common room,                                         Despite the extensive literature on the different
             the likelihood of monophthongisation in the word                                    functions of like, no previous work has examined
             like is significantly predicted by the presence or                                  the phonetics of like across its different functions.
             absence of the preceding /l/. Monophthongisation                                    The systematic phonetic variation found here
             is more likely to occur when the /l/ is not present.                                suggests that a speaker has multiple mental
                   However, for those students who use the                                       representations of the single lexeme like,
             common room, the grammatical category of the                                        representations which are stored in such a way as to
             lexical item significantly predicts whether or not                                  capture both the grammatical function and the
             the vowel will be realised as a diphthong. For these                                phonetic realisation of a particular utterance of like.
             girls, the vowel in quotative like is significantly                                       Because phonetic variation in the data is
             more likely to be realised as a monophthong than                                    significantly predicted by a combination of social




Proceedings of the 11th Australian International Conference on Speech Science & Technology, ed. Paul Warren & Catherine I. Watson. ISBN 0 9581946 2 9
University of Auckland, New Zealand. December 6-8, 2006. Copyright, Australian Speech Science & Technology Association Inc.

Accepted after abstract only review
                                                                                                                                                        PAGE 387

             category and grammatical category, these results                                                      9. References
             highlight the need for a unified linguistic
             framework that can account for sociophonetic                                    Anderson, G. (2001). “They gave us these yeah,
             variation across different grammatical categories                                  and they like wanna see like how we talk and all
             for a single lexeme. Recent findings by Hay and                                    that”: The use of ‘like’ and other discourse
             Bresnan (in press) show evidence for the storage of                                markers in London teenage speech. In A. B.
             phonetically detailed phrases. They argue in favour                                Strenstrom & A. M. Karlsson (Eds.),
             of developing a theory that can account for the                                    Ungdomssprak i Norden, 83-95. Stockholm:
             apparent relationship between syntactic storage and                                Stockholms Univ., Instititionene fur Nordiska
             the storage of phonetic information, thus unifying                                 Sprak.
             two traditionally distinct linguistic subfields: syntax                         Barras, C. (1998-2000). Transcriber - a free tool for
             and phonetics. The results presented here provide                                  segmenting, labelling and transcribing speech.
             further evidence to support the need for a unified                                 Copyright       (C)      1998-2000,         DGA
             theory between syntax and phonetics. Furthermore,                                  http://www.etca.fr/CTA/gip/Projets/Transcriber/
             they provide evidence that such a unified theory
             must also be able to account for socially prescribed                            Biber, D., S. Johansson, G. Leech, S. Conrad, & E.
             variation, since the social and syntactic variables                                Finnigan. (1999). Longman grammar of spoken
             are so inextricably linked that the inclusion of the                               and written English. London: Longman.
             social variable is crucial in identifying the
                                                                                             D’Arcy, A. (2005). Like: Syntax and development.
             syntactic-semantic patterning of the phonetic
                                                                                                Doctoral dissertation, University of Toronto.
             variable.
                                                                                                http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~twpl/dissertation
                  These results also re-emphasize the
                                                                                                s.html#darcy
             importance of examining more organic social
             categories when conducting a sociolinguistic study.                             D’Arcy, A. (2006). Lexical replacement and the
             While sociolinguistic work which gathers social                                    like(s). To appear in American Speech.
             information predetermined as relevant (ethnicity,
             sex, age, and social class) is worthwhile and is                                Eckert, P. (1989). Jocks and burnouts: Social
             certainly more time efficient, using an ethnographic                               categories and identity in the high school. New
             approach to determine relevant social categories                                   York: Teachers College Press.
             can provide insight into how language is used that                              Eckert, P. (2000). Linguistic variation as social
             would otherwise be overlooked.                                                     practice. Oxford: Blackwell.
                                                                                             Fromont, R. & J. Hay. (2004). Development of an
                                      7. Conclusion                                             Interactive Digital Corpus of New Zealand
                                                                                                English. Paper presented at New Zealand
             The results presented in this paper provide evidence                               Language and Society Conference, Palmerston
             that a word’s phonetic realisation is linked to the                                North, September 2004.
             semantic-syntactic category of the word as well as
             the social group category of the speaker. Examining                             Hay, J. & J. Bresnan (in press). Spoken syntax: The
             both grammatical and social categories when                                        phonetics of giving a hand in New Zealand
             analysing phonetic variation provides a fuller                                     English. To appear in The Linguistic Review.
             picture of patterning in the data.                                              Mendoza-Denton, N. (1997). Chicana/Mexicana
                  The results presented in this paper are based on                             Identity and Linguistic Variation: An
             only a portion of the collected data. Future analysis                             Ethnographic and Sociolinguistic Study of Gang
             will include more speakers from a variety of                                      Affiliation in an Urban High School. Doctoral
             different social groups and will investigate other                                dissertation, Stanford.
             phonetic factors, including prosody, glottalisation,
             and vowel length.                                                               Schourup, L. (1983). Common discourse particles in
                                                                                                English conversation. Ohio State Working
                             8. Acknowledgments                                                 Papers in Linguistics 28.

             I would like to thank Dr. Jen Hay for her comments,                             Underhill, R. (1988). Like is like, Focus. American
             guidance, and patience during the entirety of the                                  Speech 63:234-46.
             study. I would also like to thank Dr. Alex D’Arcy
             for her insight into the different functions of like,
             Robert Fromont for his development of and
             assistance with ONZEMiner, and ‘Oiwi Parker
             Jones for his comments on this paper. I am indebted
             to the school for allowing me access to the school
             grounds, and I am especially grateful to the Year 13
             students who shared their thoughts, their lives, and
             sometimes even their chocolate with me. Without
             their willingness to participate, this research would
             not exist.




Proceedings of the 11th Australian International Conference on Speech Science & Technology, ed. Paul Warren & Catherine I. Watson. ISBN 0 9581946 2 9
University of Auckland, New Zealand. December 6-8, 2006. Copyright, Australian Speech Science & Technology Association Inc.

Accepted after abstract only review

								
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