Aini Li will be defending their dissertation proposal, tentatively entitled Inferring Dynamics of Sociolinguistic Variation in Speech Perception, on Thursday, December 15 at 1pm. The defense will take place in person in the Linguistics department library, and on Zoom.  All are welcome to attend.

The proposal document can be found in the attachment, and the abstract is included below.



Title: Inferring Dynamics of Sociolinguistic Variation in Speech Perception

Supervisor: Meredith Tamminga

Proposal Committee: Kathryn Schuler (chair), David Embick, Gareth Roberts

Time: 1:00pm - 2:30pm

Place: Linguistics department library, 3401C Walnut St. Suite 300


Decades of research in variationist sociolinguistics based on conversational speech has reached a solid consensus that language variation and change is not random, but rather systematically conditioned by both social and linguistic factors. This dissertation uses a series of perception experiments to probe whether and how cognitive, social, and lin- guistic factors (as well as their interactions) are simultaneously integrated to influence individuals’ inferring of variation under uncertainty in real time. I create ambiguous stimuli where the ambiguity is between two sociolinguistic variants, rather than be- tween two phonemes that would result in different words. Individuals are placed in situations that require them to resolve ambiguity through categorization. The ultimate goal of this dissertation is therefore to probe what tacit knowledge listeners may have about the typology of conditioning on variation through their behaviors of uncertainty resolution, shedding light on the processes of sociolinguistic cognition.