Sociophonetics is currently emerging as a research field with a growing agenda and an assortment of research directions. It focuses on the relationships between phonetic/phonological form and social, regional and interactional-communicative factors, with a particular interest in the implications of speech variation on theories of language change.
Beside the variationist approach to speech production, recent socio-phonetic studies are also concerned with the effects of variation on speech perception, phonological categorisation, speaker and self identification, speech accommodation in production. By means of an intense exchange with other sub-disciplines of linguistic and cognitive sciences, sociophonetics is also devoted to acquisition, processing, mental representation and transmission of socially conditioned phonetic variation. Ethnographic approaches to individuals' social worlds, on the other hand, have revealed that social meaning is much more nuanced than predetermined social categorization would suggest, and promoted reliance on locally relevant social categories.
Even though many important questions about those phonetic parameters that can act as social indicators have been successfully addressed (though with relatively little effort beyond English), several issues concerning both theoretical grounding and methodological preferences of sociophonetic studies are still open for further discussion.
The workshop aims at gathering scholars working on different aspects of sociophonetic, phonetic and sociolinguistic variation, to create an informal atmosphere for critical debate on a range of relevant topics such as (but not limited to):
- dimensions of sociophonetic variation: sociolinguistic variables for the construction of socio-indexical phonological categories; clustering of variables within a linguistic community;
- instrumental techniques for sociophonetics research: the role of experimental phonetics for an explicitdefinition of crucial notions in variationist phonetics and phonology (e.g., the relationship between speech rate, style, register, hyper-/hypo-articulation etc. in connected speech);
- perceptual dialectology, accent recognition, speakers' judgment about the indexical properties of variation in the speech signal;
- dialectology, historical linguistics and their contribution to sociophonetic research;
- sociophonetics and sociolinguistics: is current sociophonetics of any help in answering some critical issues of sociolinguistic research (e.g., the qualitative vs. quantitative evaluation of variables; the Observer's Paradox; the limits of experimental settings vs. naturalist informal observations of speakers' behavior)? Are theoretical and methodological improvements possible/envisaged/needed in sociophonetic research? What are the possible contributions of past and present sociolinguistics to that purpose?
- sociophonetics and phonological theory.