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Acoustic Manifestations of Speech Register

Special session 9
Dr. Melanie Weirich
Friedrich-Schiller Univ. Jena

Dr. Stefanie Jannedy
ZAS Berlin
Importance of the topic and objectives of the proposed session:
Speech register is defined as the socially recurring situational and functional variation in
speech (Lüdeling et al. 2022). Aspects of the situational and functional setup include foremost
the speaker but just as importantly the addressee and the content of the message, that must
be conveyed. And on what aspects does a speaker gauge a situation to mediate between all
these aspects? While it is well known that human listeners interpret speech beyond the communicative
intent (e.g. having implicit biases based on speakers’ looks (race/ethnicity: Dunham
et al. 2006), to this date, it is hardly understood how speakers modulate their speech as
a reaction to an estimation of who the addressee is (i.e. social status, age etc.), how social
norms require how polite or formal s/he must be spoken to or what aspects of the situation
warrants specific linguistic behaviour.
The objective of this panel is to bring together a group of researchers working in sociophonetics,
exploring recurring situational and functional variation. Also of interest is the interface
of speech production, stance and attitude, social identity, role of addressee and social meaning.
We aim at exploring and discussing the methodologies and results of multimodal experiments
investigating speech variability and speech interpretation and its impact on modelling
human-to-human and eventually human-machine interaction. We hope to increase our
knowledge of how these two complex systems of human sociality and language interact to
understand the workings of adaptation processes, how and in what way situation or function
of a discourse and even space relates to changes in fine phonetic detail. How do stereotypes
of addressees, assumed levels of formality or politeness, or special requirements of a situation
affect speech production, and just what kinds of cues trigger or undo social clichés that are
based on language external factors? This is an important new emerging area of interest related
to the main conference topic “Intermingling Communities and Changing Cultures”
as the influence of inferences on the social situation or social factors relating to the interlocutor
are largely underexplored with regard to changes in phonetic implementation.
Dunham, Y., Scott Baron, A., & Banaji, M. R. (2006) From American City to Japanese Village: A Cross-Cultural
Investigation of Implicit Race Attitudes. Child Development 77:5, pp. 1268-1281.
Lüdeling et. al. (2022) Register: Language Users’ Knowledge of Situational- Functional Variation — Frame text of
the First Phase Proposal for the CRC 1412. Register Aspects of Language in Situation (REALIS). 1(1), pp. 1–
58, doi=
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