Linguistics events in the Boston area

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  Oct 2016   Nov 2016

Date

Tue Oct 04, 2016

Time

05:30 PM - 07:00 PM


			

Location

KCB 101

Category

Lectures

Title

LINGUISTICS COLLOQUIUM: "Race, class and gender in deracialising middle-class South African English: the sociophonetics of schwa today”

Description

Abstract:
New economic and educational opportunities have seen the rapid growth of a black middle-class in South Africa, part of whose making is having its children study at elite schools previously reserved for whites. These “model-C” schools are now important multiracial sites for varying degrees of deracialisation, or at least cross-cultural influences denied to previous generations. The present study tracks the degree to which class and gender are factors related to acquisition and allegiance to elite varieties of English or more traditional Black South African English. The illustrative variable in this paper is schwa, which may not seem a promising candidate vowel to illuminate the large-scale sociolinguistic and socio-political change discussed above. As Silverman (2011:628) observes of standard varieties, schwa is short in duration, [...] open to significant co-articulatory effects, and gravitates towards the centre of the vowel space. Furthermore, the acoustically based forced-alignment programme FAVE recommends discarding vowels in a data set that are less than 0.05 seconds in duration. However, for Black South African English schwa often takes on the quality of “full” vowels, and has “super-long” tokens in penultimate heavy syllables: seriously (0.304 sec), audiology (0.203 sec), academically (0.123 sec).

The data is broken up into seven subsets: initial, final, and medial positions (where there are 5 subtypes in traditional L2 Black South African English, realised as [a e i o u]). Acoustic analysis involved an adaptation of FAVE to South African norms. Statistical analysis of 4746 tokens was undertaken in R for each subset, using lmer and c-trees. The results give robust evidence of ongoing bifurcation by class (mediated by type of school) and gender. For the latter differences occur in more salient positions, most notably for F1 (vowel height) of final (or unchecked) schwa. Labov’s (2001:291) proposal that “in stable situations, women perceive and react to prestige or stigma more strongly than men do, and when change begins, women are quicker and more forceful in employing the new social symbolism, whatever it might be” is relevant here. This African case study shows that Labov’s proposition can be extended to the acquisition of a new elite crossover variety that accompanied and entrenched middle-class formation within a short period of a post-apartheid order.

This is also a Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1762965180629342/.

Speaker(s)

Rajend Mesthrie (Professor of Linguistics and research chair, Linguistics Section, School of African & Gender Studies, Anthropology & Linguistics, University of Cape Town, South Africa)

Sponsored by

CAS Linguistics Program, Boston University

African Studies Center, Boston University

Date

Wed Oct 26, 2016

Time

04:45 PM - 06:00 PM


			

Location

LSE 103

Category

Other

Title

Linguistics Open House

Description

DETAILS WILL BE FORTHCOMING.

Date

Wed Nov 16, 2016

Time

05:30 PM - 07:00 PM


			

Category

Lectures

Title

LINGUISTICS COLLOQUIUM: Title TBD

Description

Speaker(s)

Amy Rose Deal (Assistant Professor of Linguistics, UC Berkeley)

See also the
following links
for events at:

* MIT
* Harvard
* UMass (Amherst).