Friday, February 1: Betsy Pillion (UChicago)

Please join us for a meeting of the Language Variation & Change Workshop, this Friday, February 1 at 3:30pm, in Rosenwald 301. A light reception will follow.

Properties of para-phonemic sounds: Clicks in American English
Betsy Pillion, UChicago

Clicks in English are known to occur in transitional periods of talk, during word searches and as indicators of speaker affect. Less well established are the phonetic properties of these clicks, phonetic variation with respect to the click’s discourse role, and phonetic variation between speakers. This study contributes to understandings of click acoustics by examining clicks used within the Buckeye Corpus (Pitt et al. 2007) of American English.

Percussive clicks varied significantly in intensity from those with a discourse role such as conveying affect or turn-management. Speakers also varied in the extent to which clicks of all discourse types were employed: male speakers clicked percussively at a significantly higher rate than female speakers, whereas female speakers were more likely to use turn-management and affect-conveying clicks. This research helps illuminate an understudied aspect of sound systems, and gives insight into the extent of intra- and inter-speaker variation in non-phonemic sounds.

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