Linguistics 110, Assignment 1

This assignment asks you to perform a rapid survey along the lines of Herold 1997:169 on two unrelated phenomena. I will be combining everyone's results into an aggregate spreadsheet, so please keep that in mind when you are collecting your results.

For both parts of this assignment, please collect data for 20 native speakers of North American English. They should have grown up in one place till the age of about 16. Try to get an even mix of male and female speakers, and younger (your age) and older (your parents' age). In other words, there should be about 5 speakers per cell.

Please download this Excel spreadsheet and make a copy, replacing "template" by your last name. Use the existing line as a sample when entering your results, but then delete it (this should be obvious given that I'll be combining the results).

Speaker Assign an identifier to each speaker, whether their true name, a nickname, or some other way of keeping them distinct from the others.
Sex This will mainly be "m(ale)" or "f(emale)", but you might have speakers self-identifying as "other".
Age Report age in years. If a speaker is unwilling to provide exact age, use an estimate.
City, state As mentioned above, try to get speakers with only a single city and state. If you have trouble finding such speakers, do the best you can and make a note in the "Comments" column.

Preface your survey by explaining that you're interested in "the different words people have for things, depending on where they grew up" (Herold 1997:169).


A. This part of the assignment concerns the noun fun, which appears to be developing into a true adjective, at least in American English. Warm up your informants by telling them you'll be giving them sentences that sound "fine", like (1a), or sound "bad", (like 1b).

(1) a.   The living room gets more light than the bedroom.
b.   The kitchen even more light gets.

The five sentences you're testing are in (2). Tell your speakers that the sentences might sound "fine" or "bad" or "in between" (which is also a valid response). The judgments should be on the sentences as given, but you should record any spontaneous relevant remarks your speakers make in the "Comments" column. For instance, they might volunteer that (2b) sounds "fine" with the addition of much to modify fun.

(2) a.   The party was fun.
b.   The party was really fun.
c.   That was a fun party.
d.   It was funner than the one last week.
e.   In fact, it's the funnest party I've ever been to.


B. This part of the assignment concerns the low back merger in American English. Ask your speakers:

Don't worry if the two pronunciations sound different to you, but the speaker says "yes" to the last question. Simply make a note of that fact under "Comments".