Welcoming back Rebecca Roeder

The Linguistics program‘s latest Colloquium speaker was Rebecca Roeder (UNC Charlotte). Roeder graduated with a PhD in Linguistics from MSU in 2006, under the direction of Dennis Preston. Her colloquium talk was titled “The role of PALM in the low back merger: Theory and evidence”. We were lucky to also get some time with Becky in the Sociolinguistics Lab, where we talked about the phonology and sociolinguistics of the Canadian Shift/Third Dialect Shift/Elsewhere Shift/etc, which Becky has been studying in the Canadian context, while we’ve been tracking it here in Michigan.

It was great to have Becky back at Michigan State! 

Undergraduate research funding secured

Suzanne Wagner has received two awards of $1000 each from the College of Arts and Letters Undergraduate Research Initiative (CAL-URI). One of the awards will support undergraduate Linguistics majors Jared Kaczor and Travis Coppernoll, who are carrying out ethnographic and sociolinguistic fieldwork in two rural communities in the Lansing area. The other award will support Linguistics PhD student Matt Savage and his collaborators to design and implement a series of online language attitudes surveys. Matt’s team will include at least one undergraduate programmer. 

Both projects support the lab’s ongoing investigation of sound change in the English vowel system in the Lansing, Michigan area. Here are a few of our recent related publications:

GLEAMS and NWAV Workshop Summaries

There will be no Sociolinguistics Lab meeting this week, due to GLEAMS (Graduate Linguistics Expo At Michigan State), although all are welcome to attend any and all GLEAMS sessions! A special congratulations goes to Alex Mason and Matt Savage for their talk Style and Attitude: The Social Evaluation of the BET Vowel, which they presented at NWAV earlier this month. If you missed their talk in New York, your chance to see their encore performance is Saturday, November 3, 2018 at 3:55pm in Wells Hall, B-342.

GLEAMS is open to the public, and begins Friday, November 2, 2018 at 1:00pm (Wells Hall B-342)

The next sociolinguistics lab meeting will be on November 9, 2018 at our regular time (2:00pm), where attendees of NWAV 47 Workshops will present synopses of the sessions they attended. Presentations are scheduled to run as follows: 

  • 2:00 – 2:20    Computational sociolinguistics and eye-tracking for sociolinguistics
  • 2:20 – 2:40    Automated, non-invasive phonetic measurements  [demo ISCAN]
  • 2:40 – 3:00    Best Practices in Sociophonetics   [demo Clox]
  • 3:00 – 3:20    Integrating undergrads into corpus studies/data collection
  • 3:20 – 3:30    Plan any future in-house workshops on the above, depending on need/interest

If you didn’t get a chance to attend NWAV, or you attended NWAV, but not any of the workshops, this is your chance to catch up on what you missed!

NWAV 47 Debrief Meeting this Friday!

MSU Sociolinguists had a fun and productive time at NWAV 47 this past weekend at New York University! If you missed out on the party and want to hear about the best talks, posters, and events, or just want to congratulate our presenters, please feel free to attend our annual NWAV Debriefing Meeting this Friday, October 26, 2018 at 2pm in B-411 Wells Hall. All are welcome!


MSU Sociolinguists with Professor Aaron Dinkin of San Diego State University and Professor Chun-Yi Peng of CUNY at NWAV 47 in New York City.


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

Sociolinguistics in Fall 2018

The semester is in full swing and so are the Sociolinguistics students at Michigan State! There’s no shortage of research going on, including senior theses, research papers, conference preparation and more! If you’re interested in sociolinguistics, would like to get involved in research, or just want to see what it’s like, please feel free to join us for our meetings. We’d be happy to have you!

Our schedule can be found here

Undergraduate Updates!

  • Alichia Crandall and Renaysha Goodebailey graduated from MSU last semester. For her senior thesis, Alichia analyzed a dataset from a rapid and anonymous survey of people’s responses to being thanked (you’re welcome vs no problem vs others), modeled on an activity originated by Dr. Aaron Dinkin of San Diego State University. Renaysha collected word list data from friends and family in her home city of Pittsburgh, to investigate the progress of /u/-fronting in the African American community there. Renaysha’s work follows up on research by Dr. Maeve Eberhardt of the University of Vermont
  • And congratulations to freshman Socio Lab member Jared Kaczor, who is an MSU Citizen Scholar, and who made the Dean’s List last semester! Jared is working this semester with Savannah Feeley on a project run by Irina Zaykovskaya, investigating non-native English speakers’ acquisition of vernacular ‘like’.