James Stanford, Associate Professor and Chair of Linguistics at Dartmouth College, visited Georgia Tech on November 6th as part of the Workshop on Language, Technology, and Society, generously sponsored by the Institute for People and Technology, the GVU Center, and the Atlanta Global Studies Center.
Dr. Stanford began his presentation by discussing his research into the accents of New England -- finding that many younger and higher-socioeconomic-status Bostonians are losing the "r-less-ness" ("pahk the cah") stereotypically associated with that region. He then turned to his work among the Sui people of China, a rural minority community where socioeconomic status is less relevant and the most important social dividing lines are among clans. He explained how Sui women leave their home village to marry into the clan of a nearby village -- but they retain their home clan's pronunciation and dialect patterns for the rest of their life out of loyalty, an interesting exception to the pattern that people generally adapt to the speech of those around them.
In sum, Stanford's talk illustrated the goals and methods of sociolinguistics, both among American New Englanders and among the Sui people of China.
For more information on the Workshop on Language, Technology, and Society, please visit: https://modlangs.gatech.edu/language-technology-society