Lockdown lingo: Betsy Sneller featured in Daily Telegraph story

Source: https://lowellsfirstlook.com/top-10-things-to-do-while-on-coronacation/

Incoming co-director of the lab, Dr. Betsy Sneller, was quoted in this story published May 11, 2020 in The Daily Telegraph, a Sydney-based Australian newspaper. Titled Do you know your lockdown lingo? Test yourself, the piece explores “coronavirus slang” like coronacation, covidiot and social distancing. But why should the pandemic have introduced new words and phrases to the English language?

“Part of the reason for this is that people’s patterns of interactions change drastically and this changes language,” [Sneller] said. She pointed to previous social upheaval caused by wars, mass migrations, disasters and plagues that also made a mark on our language. “The Dutch had a history of ‘pox’-related insults thought to date back to the Black Death.”

Welcome to Betsy Sneller!

The Linguistics program at Michigan State University has hired a new Assistant Professor of sociolinguistics, Dr. Betsy Sneller. Welcome, Betsy!

Betsy’s research seeks to understand the mechanisms of language variation and language change. She’s especially interested in children’s acquisition of phonological variation, including its sociolinguistic patterns, and more generally in how individuals mentally represent and reproduce phonological changes occurring in their speech communities. Her work has employed an unusually broad range of methods, from ethnography to experiments to computational modeling. She has published multiple times in Language Variation and Change, as well as in Language Dynamics and Change and Cognition.

Betsy Sneller

Betsy received her PhD in Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania in 2018. Her primary advisor was William Labov, and her committee members included Meredith Tamminga and Josef Fruehwald. During her time at Penn, Betsy also collaborated and co-published with Gareth Roberts and Charles Yang, among others. For the last two years, Betsy has been a post-doctoral scholar in Elissa Newport‘s Learning and Development Lab at Georgetown University. She will join Michigan State University in August 2020.

A native of Holland, MI, Betsy is looking forward to collecting and analyzing speech data in her home state. Her MA thesis (2012, University of Essex), was titled “Aw man! The effect of hometown affiliation on NCS shifting in Holland, Michigan”. Betsy then carried out ethnographic, corpus and experimental research in Philadelphia. Some of the publications resulting from this effort include “Phonological rule spreading across hostile lines” (just published in Language Variation and Change) and “Competing systems in Philadelphia phonology” (also in LVC, with William Labov and other co-authors). With Gareth Roberts, Betsy has conducted artificial language learning experiments to test sociolinguistic predictions (“Why some behaviors spread while others don’t“), and she has continued to use this paradigm with children in her Georgetown-based research.

We look forward to welcoming Betsy to the Sociolinguistics Lab later this year!

Chapter on Lansing sound change in Low Back Merger Shift book

Some of the lab’s ongoing research into sound change in the Lansing area has been published as a chapter in The Low Back Merger Shift: Uniting the Canadian Vowel Shift, the California Vowel Shift, and Short Front Vowel Shifts across North America, edited by Kara Becker. Our chapter is titled “A tale of two shifts: Movement toward the Low Back Merger Shift in Lansing, Michigan“, and it’s authored by Monica Nesbitt, Suzanne Evans Wagner and Alexander Mason.  We provide a preliminary sketch of the advance of the Low Back Merger Shift (what we have previously called the ‘Elsewhere Shift’ in other work) among Lansing speakers born in the 1900s through the 1990s. 

MSU people in the new Penn Working Papers

In time for NWAV 47, the selected papers from NWAV 46 have just been released. Edited by Jordan Kodner and Lacey Wade, University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics 24.2: Selected Papers from NWAV 46 includes articles by MSU researchers Monica Nesbitt, Suzanne Evans Wagner and Sayako Uehara:

Both papers explore the sound change in progress we’re observing in Michigan from the Northern Cities Shift to a new vowel system that has various names in the literature, including the Elsewhere Shift, the Low Back Merger Shift and the Third Dialect. 

Congratulations to NWAV 47 Presenters!

The Sociolinguistics lab will be sending many projects to the 47th Annual NWAV Conference at New York University in New York City from October 18-21, 2018, including several talks! Congratulations to Silvina Bongiovanni, Monica Nesbitt, Matt Savage, and Alex Mason for getting accepted!

There will be practice talks in the weeks leading up to the conference, and all are invited to attend lab meetings to learn more and/or provide feedback!

Please see the Sociolinguistics lab calendar for specific dates of each practice talk! 

  • TRAP: The loss of tensing in Michigan (Monica Nesbitt)
  • Style & attitude: The social evaluation of the BET vowel (Matt Savage & Alex Mason)
  • On the relationship between vowel nasalization and nasal weakening: Evidence from a Caribbean and non-Caribbean dialect of Spanish (Silvina Bongiovanni)
  • It’s a TRAP!: The trigger for the Elsewhere Shift in Lansing, Michigan (Alex Mason)
  • Attitudes toward TRAP in Michigan (Monica Nesbitt)
  • “It’s an American Symbol!”: Non-native speakers’ take on remarkable LIKE (Irina Zaykovskaya) – Practice Talk: October 5, 2018; Wells Hall B243; 12:30pm-3:00pm via Skype