Lehrstuhl für Englische Sprachwissenschaft

Guest lecture by Prof. Dr. Dominic Watt

From Tweed to Tees: Using the Geographical Association Test (GAT) to test sociophonetic sensitivity among listeners from north-east England
Datum: 27.06.2023, 18:00 Uhr
Vortragende*r: Prof. Dr. Dominic Watt (University of Vechta)

Ort: Philosophiegebäude, Übungsraum 11

'The Use and Utility of Localised Speech Forms in Determining Identity: Forensic and Sociophonetic Perspectives' (TUULS) project examined phonetic variation from two standpoints: forensic speech science, and sociolinguistics. Highly-localised pronunciations are useful to the police when seeking to determine an unknown speaker's origin, and for sociolinguists it is informative to know how precisely phonetic features can place speakers geographically. TUULS focused on three cities in northeast England (Newcastle, Sunderland, Middlesbrough), in each of which we recorded 40 speakers stratified by sex, age, and mobility level. We also ran perception tests gauging how closely local listeners associate particular speech forms with specific subareas within their region.

One such task was the 'Geographical Association Test' (GAT). We played approximately 50 target forms -  single-word utterances drawn from sociolinguistic interviews - to 10 listeners per locality. Using an on-screen drag-and-drop task, participants indicated on a map the place they most closely associated with a form. The results demonstrate correlations between the perceptual and production data, and locality-dependent differentials in listeners' sensitivity to the stimuli.

The GAT is effective for gathering evidence of listeners' awareness of ongoing sound changes. When combined with other tests, GAT yields insights into the links between speech production and perception, and psychosocial motivations for accent maintenance. Further, it helps establish what 'localised' means to speakers themselves, rather than just being a label of convenience that linguists impose on phonetic variants.

(presented as part of Linguistisches Kolloquium)