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Cross-Dialectal Phonetic Variation and Lexical Encoding: Evidence from /s/ Perception in Seville Capital

Swain, Angela Krak (2023) Cross-Dialectal Phonetic Variation and Lexical Encoding: Evidence from /s/ Perception in Seville Capital. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Compelling evidence on the role of social factors in speech perception has led scholars to posit that linguistic and social information is processed simultaneously and that there is interaction between them (Sumner et al., 2014). The current study addresses multiple gaps in this literature by examining dialect classification, evaluation, and auditory lexical processing of three varieties of Peninsular Spanish (Seville capital, Seville outskirts, and central Spain). Seville capital participants (N = 42) completed a verbal guise, long-term form priming task, brief interview, and language questionnaire. Materials contained words with three variant pronunciations of /s/ associated with different levels of perceived prestige: central Spain (national standard, [s̺]), Seville capital (regional standard, [s̪]), and Seville outskirts (nonstandard, [s̪θ]) (Penny, 2004).
Verbal guise results reflected high dialect classification accuracy overall, but better classification of central talkers and more confusion between Andalusian varieties. Dialect evaluation results supported the attested prestige hierarchy for Peninsular varieties (e.g., Penny, 2004; Santana Marrero, 2022), with central voices evaluated highly for status categories (e.g., formal), while Seville capital voices received high ratings for solidarity categories (e.g., pretty). Results from the auditory word recognition task revealed flexibility in immediate processing of the three variants; /s/ words produced by all talkers were processed similarly. However, there was evidence of greater processing difficulty for the Seville outskirts variant. Changes in recognition of /s/ words after a 20-minute delay provided preliminary evidence for differential encoding, with processing benefits associated with talkers from Seville capital and central Spain. Additionally, results suggested that different processing strategies affected the /s/ words and control words, with findings interpreted through the lens of bottom-up versus top-down processing.
Different word recognition results for the Seville woman talker compared to the Seville man corresponded with dialect classification and evaluation patterns from the sociophonetic task, reflecting the power of social information in linguistic processing and the importance of combining sociophonetic and psycholinguistic tasks in the same experimental sequence. In summary, this dissertation contributes to the conversation of how sociophonetic variants are evaluated and processed by demonstrating the clear interaction between social and linguistic information in both implicit and explicit task measures.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Swain, Angela Krakamk308@pitt.eduamk3080009-0007-2448-9284
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairFricke,
Committee MemberKanwit,
Committee MemberVillarreal,
Committee MemberChappell,
Date: 6 September 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 12 July 2023
Approval Date: 6 September 2023
Submission Date: 4 August 2023
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 225
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Hispanic Linguistics
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: spoken word recognition, sociophonetics, Peninsular Spanish, language attitudes
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2023 01:24
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2023 01:24


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