Speech accommodation in international workplaces

On 16 November, Claire Cowie will give a lecture on speech accommodation theory and phonetic convergence in professional settings, especially outsourced call centres. Her abstract can be found below.

Accommodation theory predicts that in service encounters, the agent is likely to converge
linguistically towards the customer (Coupland 1984). Yet this prediction has not been tested in the more recent context of outsourcing which has brought about new situations of dialect contact on the telephone.

In this study speakers of Indian English complete a maptask (Anderson et al 1991, Brown 1995, Lindemann 2002) on the telephone with a speaker of American English, in order to determine whether they converge towards American English variants. This is tested for a phonological variable for which there is a distinct American English variant and a distinct Indian English variant, namely the BATH vowel. These variables appear in the landmark names of the maps (staff room, biology class etc.). Sixteen Indian participants from an IT company based in Pune described a route around a map to an American (based in the UK) and a fellow Indian in the control. Half of the Indian participants regularly deal with customers or colleagues in the US on the telephone (the “exposure” group), and the other half do not work with Americans at all. For each Indian-American call the American English speaker read out a list of the landmarks prior to the task to prime the Indian participant.

Most speakers showed some convergence in the BATH vowel, after taking phonetic environment and word frequency into account. For certain speakers fronting was consistent, but for most there was evidence of some “shadowing” without actual convergence. Level of fronting did not depend so much on time spent on calls as attitudes towards the American interlocutor, and interaction with Americans in and outside of India.

This experimental setting allows us to assess convergence in the absence of any explicit instructions to adopt American pronunciation, which are sometimes directly or indirectly present in Indian call centres (Cowie 2007, Cowie and Murty 2010, Poster 2007). There is also value in determining whether convergence is likely in an essentially co-operative encounter between these two groups of speakers.

Free entry for members, £2 for non-members.

Everyone is welcome to join us at the pub afterwards!

18:00 doors for an 18:15 start.

 

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PPLS Ball Fundraising PubQuiz!

Come along on the 9th November and have some fun while helping raise money for the much anticipated PPLS Ball 2017! All societies are welcome to take the challenge and become the best quiz team from PPLS! Questions will consist of general knowledge, music, and the most basic PPLS courses! All proceeds go towards the PPLS Ball 2017! Quiz starts at 8pm sharp in the upstairs section of the Golf Tavern, £2 per person. So bring along a few mates and see some friendly faces from your school!

 

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T-to-R in Northern English

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For November’s first lecture (on the 2nd), Patrick Honeybone is going to tell us about T-to-R in Northern English.

Abstract:

One widely accepted approach in phonology argues that phonological phenomena fundamentally come in two flavours. The most influential implementation of this idea distinguishes between ‘lexical’ and ‘postlexical’ processes, deriving the difference from the structure of the linguistic grammar. The two types of processes are expected to have different properties: lexical processes cannot occur across word-boundaries because the elements in which they apply (‘words’) have not yet been organised into phrases, and postlexical processes cannot refer to individual words because the units in which they apply (‘phrases’) exist at a point in the grammar at which the identity of individual words is unrecoverable.

The distinction between lexical and postlexical phenomena is called into question by the existence of what Wells (1982) calls ‘T-to-R’. This is a phenomenon (found across the north of England) in which there is phonological variation of the following kind: if a vowel follows the segment in question, the form features a variety’s normal realisation of /r/; elsewhere, the forms feature the variety’s normal realisation for /t/. This means that ‘I got one book’ would have a [t] in ‘got’, because a /w/ follows, while ‘I got a book’ could have a rhotic. The surprising thing about T-to-R is that, while it occurs across word boundaries (as in the last example) and so shows a fundamental characteristic of postlexical phonology, it is also lexically specific, which is a fundamental characteristic of lexical phonology: for example, a rhotic is possible in ‘not again’, but not in ‘knot again’. T-to-R thus seem to mix properties of the two types of phonological processes: it is neither one type or the other, and thus seems to be impossible (if the lexical/postlexical distinction is correct).

In this talk I will show that T-to-R is not impossible, after all. (Which is rather handy as it certainly exists….) The explanation requires us to consider the kinds of phonological changes that have occurred in the relevant dialects, and the status of underlying forms.

Free entry for members, £2 for non-members.

Everyone is welcome to join us at the pub afterwards!

18:00 doors for an 18:15 start.

 

 

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LangSoc Skittles Social

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Ever wanted to play skittles (an even cooler version of bowling) in a 600 year old Scottish pub? Well THIS IS YOUR CHANCE! And you can even wear a Halloween costume! (Extra bonus points for Linguistics related costumes) We will be meeting outside Pollock Halls main reception (by the taxis) at 6:30 to walk there as a group! Cover charge: £5.

There is another opportunity for a pub quiz and The Sheep Heid Inn has one of the best weekly quizzes in Edinburgh! Quiz starts at 9.

 

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Postgrad Lecture Night

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Welcome to LangSoc’s annual Postgrad Lecture night! On 19 October we will be joined by various speakers on the world of postgraduate studies in linguistics, from current students to PPLS Careers Consultant Janet Fosyth and Mits Ota, Programme Director for one of Edinburgh’s many MSc Linguistics programmes.

Free entry for members, £2 for non-members.

Everyone is welcome to join us at the pub afterwards!

18:00 doors for an 18:15 start.

 

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Hoodies!

This year LangSoc will be offering hoodies and t-shirts in seven different models, in addition to canvas bags and mugs! The designs from previous years are available here, and you can also order a hoodie or t-shirt with this year’s winning design:

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Also available this year is the design from the committee t-shirts:

Committee Lingwugstics

The deadline for ordering is 25 October.

The various models on offer are

College Hoodie — £17
order here

JH001

see available colours here (hover for colour names)

Zipped Hoodie — £20
order here

JH050

see available colours here (hover for colour names)

Girlie Zipped Hoodie — £20
order here

JH055

see available colours here (hover for colour names)

Crewneck Sweatshirt — £15
order here

crewneck

see available colours here (hover for colour names)

Varsity Jacket — £20
order here

JH043

see available colours here (hover for colour names)

Unisex T-Shirt — £9
order here

GD05

see available colours here (hover for colour names)

Ladies V-Neck T-Shirt — £9
order here

GD78

see available colours here (hover for colour names)

Canvas Tote Bag — £7
order here

canvas-bag

Mugs — £6
order here
design 1 – logo and text:

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design 2 – wugs:

EGM Results

Elections

The people have spoken!

Another year, another EGM. Here are the results:

 

Firstly, we welcome three new members to the committee: our new first-year representative, Brandon Papineau; and our two new ordinary members, Alex Hersey and Griffith Tai.

We also passed one constitutional amendment: Clause 3(k) of the constitution no longer applies to ordinary members.