Dr. Gareth Roberts Colloquium Talk on Investigating Sociolinguistic Indexicality

Dr. Gareth Roberts was invited to give an in-person talk on Thursday, March 16th as part of the Linguistics colloquium series this year. Dr. Gareth is an associate professor in Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania and a former co-author of Dr. Sneller, one of the Socio Lab co-directors here at MSU. It was great to have Dr. Gareth here!

You can find title and abstract of the talk below.

Social meaning in alien languages: Investigating linguistic indexicality in the laboratory

Linguistic utterances convey more than just propositional meaning. They also convey information about the producer of the utterance, indexing a variety of social features, often in complex and dynamic ways. This also occurs at different timescales: Over the course of an interaction, language users will adapt their language to index different social features, often in response to their interlocutors, or even individuals who are not present. Over multiple interactions, language users form new associations that feed into their comprehension of indexical relations. Sometimes this influences the trajectory of language change. But how does this all happen? Such processes can be, and have been, observed in natural language behavior. But investigating such processes with experimental control can be hard. Here I present a set of experimental studies designed to sidestep such difficulties by investigating the dynamics of sociolinguistic indexicality in artificial “alien” languages in the lab.

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