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Indexicality and experience: Exploring the meanings of /aw/-monophthongization in Pittsburgh

Johnstone, B and Kiesling, SF (2008) Indexicality and experience: Exploring the meanings of /aw/-monophthongization in Pittsburgh. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 12 (1). 5 - 33. ISSN 1360-6441

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In this paper we test the hypothesis that monophthongal /aw/is semiotically associated with local identity in Pittsburgh. We compare results of an experimental task that directly elicits participants' sense of the indexical value of /aw/-monophthongization with the occurrence of this variant in the same people's speech. People who hear monophthongal /aw/as an index of localness are unlikely to have this feature in their own speech, and many of the people who do monophthongize /aw/do not associate this variant with localness. Exploring how four of these participants talk about this feature and its meanings, we show that the indexical meanings of speech features can vary widely within a community, and we illustrate the danger of confusing the meaning assigned by hearers to a linguistic form with the meaning users would assign to it. We suggest that a phenomenological approach, attending to the multiplicity and indeterminacy of indexical relations and to how such relations arise historically and in lived experience, can lead to a more nuanced account of the distribution of social meanings of variant forms than can studies of perception or production alone. © Journal compilation © Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2008.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Johnstone, B
Kiesling, SFkiesling@pitt.eduKIESLING0000-0003-4954-1038
Date: 1 February 2008
Date Type: Publication
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Sociolinguistics
Volume: 12
Number: 1
Page Range: 5 - 33
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1111/j.1467-9841.2008.00351.x
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Linguistics
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 1360-6441
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2017 20:41
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2019 12:56


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