Naomi Nagy

Linguistics at U of T

LIN 1256: Advanced Language Variation & Change
Sociophonetics of Perception

Course Description (2022)

Syllabus / Schedule * Reading * Assessment

Class meets Thursdays, 1:10pm-3pm (Toronto time), Sid Smith 2104

Course Description

Much attention has been given to the detrimental effects of implicit or unconscious bias (behaviour that is influenced by our beliefs about different groups of people) on social equality. In contrast, normalization is acknowledged as an everyday linguistic process necessary to successful communication, in which listeners adjust how we hear voice qualities and speech patterns according to our experience with people that we group by various features (e.g., gender, ethnicity). Another relevant type of normalization is the (socio)phoneticians’ process to make recordings of different speakers comparable. In this graduate seminar, we will confront the concepts of implicit bias and normalization in sociolinguistic research and seek ways to describe connections between speech perception and production in ways that will curb, rather than further, discriminatory behaviour that results from such differences (cf. Hosoda & Stone-Romero, 2010; Kalin et al., 1980), common in many AI tools (Bajorek, 2019). The course will involve reading recent work about perception and bias and designing and piloting research methods, making use of recent data from the Heritage Language Variation and Change in Toronto and Contact in the City projects (or other data that students bring to the course).

Goals and outcomes

  • By reading and discussing recent literature, you will become familiar with state-of-the-art research findings.
  • You will learn to design research projects in the sociolinguistic subfield of sociophonetics.
  • You will engage in interesting debates and discussions to develop our thoughts and plans, both for the course and in the longer term.
  • You will critically engage with a range of academic writing by critically reading journal articles and using published models to improve your own writing research paper components as well as some writing for non-academic audiences.
  • You will learn about language’s structure and variability by working with corpora of naturalistic (read: "messy!") speech data.

Please note that many important policies relevant to this course are posted in Quercus and do not appear in this online syllabus. Look through the "Policies" section of Quercus carefully.

Updated January 13, 2022

email: naomi dot nagy at utoronto dot ca | Return to my home page