New techniques in the study of the perception of dialect differences: The study of “North” in England

Montgomery, Chris

University of Sheffield, UK

WS133: The macro/micro of language attitudes, ideologies, and folk perceptions

This presentation will review and update techniques in the study of perceptual dialectology and introduce new computational techniques in the analysis and display of responses. The presentation will discuss ways of gaining access to non-linguist informants’ perceptions of linguistic variation with special reference to the concept of ‘north’ and ‘south’ in England.

The presentation will discuss the role of geography in perception and methods for ensuring informants involved in such tasks have a similar level of geographic competence in order to complete map-based perceptual tasks. The complexity of informants’ hand drawn maps and the processing of these given different tasks will be also be discussed.

The presentation will introduce and discuss the development of the approach taken in order to map informants’ placements of speech samples; ‘starburst charts’. Such charts are original in their application to folk linguistics although they do draw upon a similar approach in perceptual geography (Pocock, 1972). ‘Starburst charts’ allow the mapping of voice placements and can be used to examine potential effects of social variables in perception. The charts also permit the examination of the correlation between informants’ hand drawn dialect areas and the accuracy of placements from within those perceptual areas. New developments involving starburst charts will also be introduced. In discussing the methodological approaches to the study of perception, I hope to demonstrate the value of folk linguistics and perceptual dialectology to the study of linguistic variation.

Niedzielski, N. & D. R. Preston (2003). Folk linguistics. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Pocock, D. C. D. (1972). City of the Mind: A review of mental maps of urban areas. Scottish Geographical Magazine 88: 115-24.

Preston, D. R. (ed.) (1999). Handbook of perceptual dialectology. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Session: Workshop (part 2)
The macro/micro of language attitudes, ideologies, and folk perceptions
Saturday, April 5, 2008, 13:45-15:15
room: 08