AXL5311F Research Methods in Sociophonetics

24 NQF credits at HEQSF level 9

Convener: Professor R Mesthrie

Course entry requirements: Acceptance for an Honours or Master’s programme

Course outline:

Sociophonetics is concerned with the interface between Phonetics and Sociolinguistics in relation to empirical studies of language variation. Whereas the broader field of Language Variation and Change covers the conceptual relations between social variables (e.g. class, ethnicity and gender) and linguistic variables (lexical, syntactic or phonetic), Sociophonetics pays closer attention to the phonetic dimension. This course accordingly focuses in detail on the research methods that will prepare students for their own future work. The main emphasis will fall on (a) practical acoustics, especially the measurement of vowels and certain consonants using the computer programme PRAAT; (b) techniques of normalisation, including BARK and Watts-Fabricius; (c) basic statistical analysis; and (d) presentation and analysis of South African data in relation to language variation and change.

DP requirements: Submission of all written work and at least 75% attendance at seminars.

Assessment: 1. Acoustic measurements and plotting of vowels (25%) 2. Assignment on analysis of dialect variation (25%) 3. Group project on analysis of a sociophonetic variable in South African English (50%)