Schedule of Events Toward Completing Your Socio Project
Step 0: Complete the IRB reading.
Step 1: Conduct a sociolinguistic interview.
Specifically, you are being asked to conduct a one-on-one interview in which you attempt to record relatively informal, “natural” speech. To make this more of a realistic exercise, you should not interview a friend or anyone you have had casual conversations with in the past. Your interviewee doesn’t have to be a stranger, just not someone you know well. Here are some other guidelines/suggestions:
- To follow the Labovian model, interviews must be comprised of a wordlist and reading passage, followed by more ‘conversational’ questions. The customary wordlist and reading passage, “Arthur the Rat”, have been included with this assignment sheet.
- Plan your interview by sketching some topics you intend to cover. Think about the kinds of information that might be useful to your analysis (e.g. family background), but also consider topics that are likely to generate good talk. You may wish to work out the particular wordings of some questions you want to ask, but be careful about following a script too tightly. Remember you’re trying to get a relatively free-flowing, back-and-forth conversational exchange.
- The interview should last at least 30 minutes but can go longer if you wish or if you need it to in order to achieve the kind of speech you’re seeking.
- You need to produce an audio recording of the interview. You should record it digitally (e.g. through your iPhone, laptop, or digital recorder). Sound quality is important; we want the option to do some acoustic analysis of the data later on.
Interviews should be completed by FEB 24th.
Step 2: Transcribe an interview excerpt.
The goal of transcription it to provide an exact rendering of what is said on the recording. In some regards, transcripts resemble the script of a play, with turns assigned to each speaker. Transcripts should include things like hesitations (um, er, etc.), false starts (I th-thought…), and places where speakers’ words overlap. Here are a few common transcription conventions with examples:
- pauses ( . ) His name was ( . ) Fred, I think
- laughter <laughs> Yeah, I totally <laughs> messed up
- emphasis CAPS I think she REALLY liked it
Smith: We went to North Car-
Jones: Carolina, to the tournament last year.
Smith: We were disappointed in them = this year =
Jones: = they sucked =
- something you just can’t hear/understand [IA]
- miscellaneous noises <door shuts>
In your transcriptions, be cautious about “dialect respellings” (wuz, wad’nt, Ah), though some orthographic representations of actual speech are acceptable (gonna, coulda, somethin). Don’t worry too much about punctuation; use commas and periods as you deem appropriate.
As per our IRB application, please remove all identifying information from your interview transcript and choose a pseudonym for your informant.
Transcriptions are to be completed by March 30th.
Bring them to class with you on that day.
Step 3: Choose a feature OR an ‘interaction’ of interest.
The feature option: You can choose a linguistic feature that stands out to you as your focus. Bear in mind that, for this feature, you will be doing a token/type count and resulting frequency distribution.
You will need to do a type/token count. The easiest thing to do is to go through the interview and tag occurrences of your feature of interest and then go through it again to look for how many times the feature could have occurred. For your type counts, you will need to decide how to make the judgment of “when feature X could have appeared.” To that end, you may assume the following:
The a-prefix is most likely to occur in the following structure: (to be) verb + ing. For example, “we were a-hunting when we ran across the ivory billed woodpecker” or “he is a-laughing every time I see him”.
Nonstandard past tense can take many forms: present for past (“he give me money yesterday”), past participle for simple past (“I seen him on the street this morning”), simple past for past participle (“he had saw me two days ago’), a totally ‘different form’ (such as “riz” for “rose”), or a doubled-past form (‘He thoughted of the answer”). Nonstandard past tense is most likely to occur with the following verbs: give, run, come, done, see.
SV nonconcord is most likely to occur with was/were or don’t/doesn’t.
In terms of phonological features (pronunciation), you could always look at IN/ING alternations.
Comparisons of pronunciations between the reading passage and word list (and, possibly, the conversational section of the interview) might also be fuitful.
The interaction option: You can choose an excerpt (or two) from the interview conversation to look at from a more ‘discoursey’ point of view. Possible types of analysis include the SPEAKING model, an IS type of analysis, or a narrative analysis.
You can always do an analysis that combines elements of both ‘feature counting’ and a more discourse-oriented approach. (See for example Burkette 2007).
Be prepared to discuss your mode of analysis in class on April 20h.
Step 4: Writing it up.
The “standard” format for a social science paper includes an Introduction, a Literature Review, a Methods section, a Data presentation, and an Analysis, followed by a Conclusion. For this paper, you do not need to do a methods section or an expansive lit review.
-state research question – what are question are you trying to answer?
-give basic background on topic – what other literature exists in this area?
-given the previous research, state your expectations
-thesis that mentions the linguistic data under investigation,
-this is a simple presentation of your data, tables and charts are handy BUT you must also explain your tables/charts (it’s not up to the reader to decipher your chart). For an interaction analysis, present the segment(s) of the interview relevant to your point.
-what does your data mean?
-did things work out the way you expected?
-how do your results compare with the previous work done in this area?
-recap the data and analysis.
-any suggestions for further investigation or greater implications?
Your final papers will be due to me in hard copy on the last day of class.
Arthur the Rat
Once there was a young rat named Arthur, who could never make up his mind. Whenever his friends asked him if he would like to go out with them, he would only answer, “I don’t know.” He wouldn’t say “yes” or “no” either. He would always shirk at making a choice.
Even his aunt Helen said to him, “Now look here. No one is ever going to care for you if you carry on like this. You have no more mind than a blade of grass.”
One rainy day, the rats heard a great noise in the loft. The pine rafters were all rotten, so that the barn was rather unsafe. At last the joists gave way and fell to the ground. The walls shook and all the rats’ hair stood on end with fear and horror.
“This won’t do,” said their elderly captain. “I’ll send out scouts to search for a new home.”
Within five hours the ten scouts came back and said, “We found a stone house where there is room and board for us all. There is a kindly horse named Nelly, a cow, a calf, and a garden with an elm tree.” The rats crawled out of their little houses and stood on the floor in a long line, ready to march away.
Just then the old captain saw Arthur. “Stop,” he ordered the others coarsely. “You are coming, of course?” “I’m not certain,” said Arthur, undaunted. “The roof may not come down yet.” “Well,” said the angry old rat, “we can’t wait for you to join us. Right, about face. March!”
Arthur stood and watched them hurry away. “I think I’ll go tomorrow,” he calmly said to himself, but then again “I don’t know; it’s so nice and snug here.”
That night there was a big crash. In the morning some men — with some boys and girls — rode up and looked at the barn. One of them moved a board and saw a young rat, quite dead, half in and half out of his hole. Thus the shirker got his due.