The project

The project

The aims and hypotheses
Methodology

Effects

Timelines
Results

 

 

 

 

 The project

The main goal of the research project is to perform an analysis and provide a description of phonostylistic processes in the Lancashire dialect. Lancashire happens to serve as the prime example of phonostylistic processes and is often stereotyped for its prevalent phonetic reduction (Jones 2002). The project will use 8 hrs of recordings of spontaneous speech, produced by 12 speakers of the Lancashire dialect (recruited following Milroy 1982) from the Phonologie de l’Anglais Contemporain corpus (PAC, http://w3.pac.univ-tlse2.fr/, Durand and Pukli 2004). The remaining 12 hrs of the Lancashire part of the corpus consist of a word list and a read passage.

 

The aims and hypotheses
The project envisages 3 specific research objectives:

Objective 1 (dialectology, phonetics): description and classification of phonostylistic processes in the Lancashire dialect, considering their frequency of occurrence, type, phonetic context and speech rate. Moreover, this objective seeks to verify whether phonetic reduction is indeed on a huge scale: in casual English, one phoneme undergoes some sort of reduction in 60 pre cent of words, two phonemes follow suit in 30 per cent whereas every fifth word is deleted entirely (Johnson 2004). Also, a comparison of the processes with the standard (i.e. Received Pronunciation, RP) is going to be performed.

The two research hypotheses are as follows: certain linguistic phenomena, absent from the highly codified standard (RP), will occur in a non-standard variety such as Lancashire (Kortmann and Wagner 2005); the higher the rate of speech , the higher the frequency of a process (Shockey 2003, Benus and Mady 2010).

Objective 2 (theoretical linguistics): establishment of the relative importance of frequency, grammar (function vs. lexical words) and pragmatics (new vs. old information status) in phonetic reduction as well as compiling a list of reduced variants of the most frequent words from the corpus. As for the hierarchy of reduction factors, it is hypothesized that frequency will play an overarching role, meanwhile the relative importance of pragmatics will be greater than that of grammar (Kul 2007).

Objective 3 (applied linguistics, second language acquisition): establishment of how Polish learners of English perceive and produce phonostylistic processes as well as the working out and testing of an effective method of teaching phonostylistics to Polish learners.  With regard to non-native speakers using/perceiving the phonostylistics of English, the transfer hypothesis will be tested, with special emphasis on the phonetic context of a process, present in or absent from the mother tongue. As for the method, the form-focused one should prove more effective in both the short and long run than the traditional method, followed by the listen-and-repeat procedure (Kul submitted).

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Methodology
Objective 1: annotation of the processes enhanced by acoustic analysis (Praat, Boersma and Weenink 2013); description of the processes considering frequency, phonetic context and rate as well as their classification in the manner of Lodge (1984), Cruttenden (1998) and Shockey  (2003); their comparison to RP, following Wells (1982), Schneider et al. (2004) and Hannisdal (2006).

Objective 2: acoustic analysis (Praat) of reduction in vowels (Lindblom 1963) from two sets of two lists (10 most frequent lexical words, 10 most frequent function words, 10 mid-frequent lexical words, 10 mid frequent functionwords, AntConc); calculating the degree of phonetic reduction, considering duration as well as formants (Kul 2010); normalization of the reduction degree to compare all speakers; the running of a linear correlation (Pearson’s test) of reduction degree and frequency, grammar, pragmatics; multiple regression (the Statistica package, Bell et al. 2009, Clark and Trousdale 2009); compilation of a list of all the reduced variants of 40 studied words.

Objective 3: incorporation of the obtained findings such as the frequency of processes, their context as well as a list of reduced variants into the teaching materials; the running of a perception-production pretest of casual speech (a pretest); the teaching of the processes to the experimental group by means of the form-focus method and to the control group by means of the traditional method; the conducting of a posttest 5 weeks after the treatment/observation; comparison of the pretest and posttest results; the conducting of a delayed posttest 5 months after the treatment/observation; comparison of the tests’ results.

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Effects
Since neither Wells 1982 nor Kortmann and Upton 2008 discuss the phonetics of Lancashire in the context of  Northern dialects, the first objective aims to fill the gap in the literature by providing a complete description of phonostylistic processes and by furnishing their systematic comparison to RP.
Meanwhile, a list of reduction factors such as frequency (Bybee and Scheibman 1999), grammar (Jurafsky et al. 1998, Lavoie 2002) and

pragmatics (Kul 2007) has been compiled. No attempts to verify their relative importance have been endeavored in the previous scholarship. A list of reduced variants emerging as the outcome of the second objective may serve to test the model of automatic recognition (Wypych 1999) and perhaps to advance research in speech pathology by providing a norm for healthy individuals (Połczyńska and Tobin 2011). 

Problems with understanding native speakers of English when they speak in a casual manner are frequently reported by learners (Kul submitted). Therefore, the third objective seeks to improve the understanding of casual speech by developing a multimedia course for students of English and for those who just want to communicate effectively in English.

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 Timelines

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Results

 

 work in progress

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