A ton of variation exists within languages. For instance, speakers of the same language might use different words to refer to the same concept (e.g. Californians say hella, New Englanders say wicked; both mean ‘very’), or they may have different pronunciations of the same word (e.g. most Americans pronounce eagle as [ig?l], but some people from Pittsburgh say [?g?l] (with a lax initial vowel)). Often, this variation is determined to some extent by non-linguistic characteristics shared by speakers, such as age or where they grew up. Often, we say that speakers who speak alike and share these non-linguistic characteristics speak the same variety (or dialect) of their language. For instance, people from Pittsburgh speak the Pittsburgh variety of English. However, we can break even this down further and say that older people speak a different variety of Pittsburgh English than do younger people (e.g. I do not think anyone my age says [?g?l]).
For this assignment, you will conduct a dialect survey (you may have seen dialect surveys like this New York Times one on Facebook). First, identify two groups of speakers (any language, though a lot of you will likely chose English or Spanish) who you expect to differ linguistically. These groups may differ according to place of origin (e.g. UA students from Tucson vs. from San Diego), age (e.g. 20-year-old Tucsonans vs. 40-year-old Tucsonans), college major (e.g. UA linguistics students vs. speech, language, and hearing students), or any other non-linguistic feature which a) you can identify and b) you expect to cause speakers to exhibit linguistic differences.
Second, identify at least 10 linguistic features which you plan to survey speakers about. You may choose to explore lexical differences (i.e. differences in which word speakers use for a particular concept), pronunciation differences (i.e. differences in how speakers pronounce the same word), some combination of the two, or other differences (e.g. syntactic ones, such as whether utterances like “the table needs washed” is acceptable or not). You should pick linguistic features that you have some reason to think they will differ across your groups of speakers.
Third, survey 10 speakers (5 from each group) regarding these features. Try to keep your groups as homogenous as possible. You must ask each of your speakers about each of the linguistic features you chose. You may survey your speakers by (this is a non-exhaustive list of methods):
? Asking them to provide the word they use to refer to some concept;
? Asking them to pick from a list the words/phrases they use to refer to something; or
? Giving them a list of sentences and asking them which ones sound acceptable/best.
Everyday Linguistics 1 Instructions Geary 2
Any of these methods is acceptable, provided you do not tell your speakers which word/phrase you expect them to choose. Do NOT tell your speakers what you think they would pick (at least not until the end of the survey), as that will bias your results. Record in a notebook – though you may make an audio recording with your participants’ permission – the results of your survey.
Fourth, write a 2-4 page report of your results. Your report should be double-spaced and use 12- point Times New Roman font. Your report should include the following sections:
1.? Introduction, in which you identify the two varieties/dialects in question and provide your reasoning for focusing on them (i.e. your hypothesis) for this assignment. Why did you choose these groups? Why do you think they will differ? How will they differ?;
2.? Methods, in which you explain your survey and provide information about your participants and the linguistic features you surveyed them for. Your list of questions (i.e. the survey itself) should go in an appendix, and it will not count towards the 2-4 page limit; you should NOT list your survey questions within the paper itself.
3.? Results, in which you summarize your results. Look for patterns in your groups. You may find it useful to use a table or graph. You should NOT list every single speaker’s response to every single question, though you may discuss a handful of interesting observations.
4.? Discussion, in which you discuss your results and whether your expectations were met. If they were not, you should try to explain why you were wrong. If you discovered any unexpected patterns, you should discuss them in this section as well.
Some other notes/common mistakes you should avoid (this is not an exhaustive list):
? If you use any outside sources in any way (e.g. you use the New York Time’s dialect survey or the Wikipedia page on Pittsburgh English to help you come up with linguistic features to survey) you MUST cite them in your report AND provide a reference at the end.
? You MUST tell your speakers that they are participating in a survey for a class. You should NOT lie to your speakers, and you should NOT secretly record them, as this is unethical. If you fail to follow this instruction, you will receive a grade of “0” for this assignment.
? That said, you should NOT tell your subjects the full purpose of your survey until after. You may tell them that you are collecting data on dialectal variation for a class, but you should not tell them exactly what groups you are comparing until the end of the experiment. You must NOT tell them which answers you expect them to give during the survey.
? When you refer to pronunciation, you MUST use the IPA. Related to this, you should NOT refer to letters unless you are actually investigating spelling differences (and I do not expect anyone to actually investigate spelling differences for this assignment).
? Keep your participants anonymous! You will lose points if, for instance, you provide the names of your participants or you say that you surveyed your parents and siblings.
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