The role of internal constraints and stylistic congruence on a variant's social impact

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Vaughn, C (509.89 KB)
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2023-02-02

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Vaughn, C. (2022). The role of internal constraints and stylistic congruence on a variant's social impact. Language Variation and Change, 34(3), 331-354.

Abstract

In natural conversation, multiple factors likely impact the social force of a sociolinguistic variant, yet researchers have tended to examine individual factors in isolation. This paper considers two underexamined factors together—the role of a variable's internal constraints and the role of stylistically congruent surrounding speech—to understand their combined influence on how a single variable's realization is socially interpreted. Focusing on English variable (ING), two accent rating experiments used stimuli varying the grammatical category of (ING) words and varying the stylistic congruence (natural sentences versus spliced stimuli) between (ING) realization and sentence frames. Results indicate that listeners showed sensitivity to (ING)'s internal constraints but only when the congruence between (ING)'s realization and other cues was not disrupted by using spliced stimuli. These findings suggest that internal constraints and stylistic congruence play a role in social signaling, and have methodological implications for the use of splicing.

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