The MSU Sociolinguistics Lab was well represented at the NWAV 51 conference at Queens College, New York, October 13-15, 2023. We had presentations on some of our first analyses of linguistic data from the MI Diaries project: Dr. Betsy Sneller presented as first author on a talk about Michigan English vowel change in apparent time, and Linguistics PhD students Adam Barnhardt and Yongqing Ye presented their doctoral qualifying paper research on adolescent stance-taking and vowel nasalization respectively. In addition, we had a poster that described our experience of building the MI Diaries ‘brand’ over the last three years. We were pleased to include new first year Second Language Studies student Shannon Harasta, who presented her MA thesis research (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale) on queer individuals’ sense of (dis)comfort with various audiences. And it would not be NWAV without a gathering of MSU Socio Lab alumni and associates, such as Dr. Monica Nesbitt (U Indiana Bloomington), Jack Rechsteiner (U Pittsburgh), Chun-Yi Peng (Borough of Manhattan Community College) and Jayce Garner (Pomona College and MI Diaries NSF-REU 2022).
MSU Grandparents University is an opportunity for grandparents and grandchildren (ages 8-12) to come together for a three-day educational experience while spending time together on the MSU campus in the summer. This past summer, MSU Sociolinguistics led two courses.
As usual, we ran Harry Potter and the Secrets of British English, which has been a hit at Grandparents University since 2009! In this session, participants are whisked off to Hogwarts for classes in Potions (British/US English madlibs), Charms (IPA transcription), Defense Against the Dark Arts (British regional accents) and History of Magic (a brief lecture on language change).
And we had a new course: Diary of a Michigan Kid. In this class, we taught participants about keeping an audio diary, pronunciation differences, and generational differences in language. All of the activities and materials were co-designed by faculty and students on the lab’s MI Diaries project team. We think that the “Kids vs Grands” activity was the most fun. See below for some pictures from Diary of a Michigan Kid.
Jack Rechsteiner (Linguistics M.A.) and Betsy Sneller recently had a paper accepted to ICPhS (International Congress of Phonetic Sciences) for a poster presentation. The paper is titled “The impact of social information on VOT shadowing by nonbinary speakers”. The conference will be hosted in Prague, Czech Republic on August 7-11, 2023.
Congratulations, Jack and Betsy!
Jack Rechsteiner (MA Linguistics) has accepted a funded PhD position in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Pittsburgh, starting Fall 2023.
Jack received their B.A. in Linguistics at Michigan State University in 2021, and is currently a 2nd year MA student in the Linguistics program at MSU. Their research focuses primarily on sociophonetic variation in nonbinary speakers.
Mohammed Ruthan became the Linguistics program’s first PhD student to defend his doctoral dissertation in the new age of social distancing. His defense took place on Friday, March 13th, with just his wife, two friends and two committee members present in person, plus two committee members and various others via Zoom. It might not have been how Mohammed imagined his defense would be, but he handled it all (including various technical issues) with tremendous grace and patience. His dissertation, Aspects of Jazani Arabic, examines the phonology and phonetics of his own southwestern dialect of Saudi Arabic, as well as attitudes to the dialect. It was co-advised by Yen-Hwei Lin and Suzanne Evans Wagner, with much support from Karthik Durvasula and Brahim Chakrani. Once travel restrictions are lifted, Mohammed will return to Saudi Arabia to take up a university teaching position. Congratulations!