Talk – Elizabeth Pillion (University of Chicago)

Next meeting (2/20), Elizabeth Pillion will be talking about “Clicks in American English: Understudied Aspects of Sound Systems”. Our meeting will take place at the regular time and place on Wednesday from 4-5pm in Cresap 101.

Clicks in English are known to occur appear in a variety of contexts, such as transitional periods of talk, during word searches and as indicators of speaker affect. Less well established are the phonetic properties of these clicks, phonetic variation with respect to the click’s discourse role, and phonetic variation between speakers. This study contributes to understandings of click acoustics by examining clicks used within the Buckeye Corpus (Pitt et al. 2007) of American English.

Percussive clicks varied significantly in intensity from those with a discourse role such as conveying affect or turn-management. Speakers also varied in the extent to which clicks of all discourse types were employed: male speakers clicked percussively at a significantly higher rate than female speakers, whereas female speakers were more likely to use turn-management and affect-conveying clicks. Manual auditory categorizations of articulatory properties are not strongly supported by acoustic evidence. This research helps illuminate an understudied aspect of sound systems, and gives insight into the extent of intra- and inter-speaker variation in paraphonemic sounds.

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