Speaker Series: Abby Walker (Virginia Tech.)

Abstract:

The effects of Multidialectal vs. Monodialectal Exposure on

Linguistic Processing


Abby Walker

Virginia Tech

ajwalker@vt.edu


Some people are exposed to more dialects than others, perhaps since birth, or throughout their lifetime due to social or regional mobility. Similarly, some people experience being ÒaccentedÓ in a way that other speakers do not. In this talk I will present two studies that highlight the ways in which these differences in experience result in differences in linguistic processing. The first study is a cross-modal lexical decision task where we find that listeners who have lived in multiple dialect regions show less facilitation and more inhibition than monodialectal listeners. We interpret this difference as a Òkeep your options openÓ strategy by the former group resulting from the dialect-based ambiguity in their linguistic histories. The second study is a listening in noise transcription task in which native listeners who self- reported having an accent were more accurate with non-native speech than ÒunaccentedÓ listeners. Error analysis reveals that ÒaccentedÓ listeners were attempting more answers than unaccented listeners.

I will then present a third study in which English and American expatriates and non-migrants were recorded reading English- and American- themed wordlists. Looking at two variables (intervocalic /t/ and rhoticity), I measured production shifts between British and American English depending on the topic. While the expatriates show overall evidence of second dialect acquisition compared to the non-migrants, there is no difference between the two groups in how much they shifted depending on the topic: all groups shifted about the same degree. I argue that while multidialectal experience clearly impacts a personÕs linguistic system, topic-based shifting is rooted in stereotypical representations of dialects, and as such is not impacted by experience, as much as dialect exposure does not alter dialect stereotypes.

Date: 
Friday, September 16, 2016 - 1:30pm - 3:00pm
Location: 
Fisher-Bennett Hall, Room 401 (3340 Walnut Street)