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How Social Networks Shape the Loss of the Southern Dialect in Raleigh

Tuesday, March 13th 2018, 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

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Professor Robin Dodsworth (English, Linguistics, NCSU) will present a talk entitled: 

How Social Networks Shape the Loss of the Southern Dialect in Raleigh

 Abstract: Sociolinguists have recognized the potential of social network analysis to uncover the interactional processes that create patterns of sociolinguistic variation and also promote or inhibit the diffusion of linguistic innovations. I endeavor to move sociolinguistic network analysis forward both methodologically and theoretically in my investigation of contact-induced vowel shift in Raleigh, North Carolina. Since the mid-20th century, the migration of non-Southerners to the Raleigh area for technology-sector jobs has caused the quick shift away from the Southern vowel system to a (mostly) regionally unmarked system. I investigate the role of three interrelated social factors in shaping the trajectory of vowel shift across apparent time: occupation, sex, and social network position. Speakers’ vowel systems are assessed in relation to their positions in the overall community network, which is modeled as a bipartite network of speakers and schools they attended. In this talk, I focus on the question as to whether any two speakers’ linguistic similarity is a function of their similar (or different) network positions. One conclusion is that although linguistic similarity correlates significantly with network similarity, the network effects are stronger for women, and especially women with blue collar jobs.

Bio: Robin Dodsworth is a sociolinguist specializing in aggregate patterns of language variation and change. Her research has to do with the Southern Vowel Shift and other cases of phonetic variation, social networks, social class, and Arabic morphosyntax. She received a Ph.D. in Linguistics from The Ohio State University in 2005 and came to NC State in 2007.


March 13
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm


Tompkins 123

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