Laboratory Research


Joey Stanley


May 17, 2017

Recently, I’ve presented on words like pool, pull, and pole and how the difference between them can be really hard to describe, both by me and the non-specialist alike. Based on my findings in Washington, I decided I wanted to dig a little deeper into what these words are like, so I started a study that is less sociolinguistic and more laboratory phonology-based, which is a little unusual for me.

Broadly, I want to look at the phonetics of English vowels before coda laterals. So, after making a list of lots and lots of possible words, cutting them down based on frequency and other factors, I’ve got a decent list of targeted words.

I got IRB approval just a little too late into the semester to recruit people and offer them extra credit in courses, so I had to wait a few weeks to get started. Now that Maymester has started, I’ve approached some professors and asked them to offer participation in my research as an extra credit opportunity. I even hand out little business cards after I’ve done my pitch to the class, so they have my contact information—an idea that proved very effective for me in Washington:

Recruitment business card

So I’m now meeting with students in the linguistics laboratory that we have here at UGA. It’s unfortunately under-utilized but nonetheless very good. Inside the already very quiet recording studio is a tiny booth where the best recordings can be made. I have participants reading a bunch of carefully selected sentences that target key sounds and then taking a quick follow-up survey. It amounts to about 30–40 minutes of speech from each person, which is kind of a lot.

I don’t have a specific goal for how many people I want to get, but I should have 20 by the end of the month and potentially up to 50 by the end of the summer. My only limitation is how much time I can put into this. I’ll do some preliminary analyses on those and see if I need to recalibrate the sentences or maybe collect more data. This will probably be an ongoing project for a while: the IRB and consent forms are purposely pretty open-ended to allow me to modify things where needed without much hassle.

Anyway, it’s been fun being in the lab, and I’m excited to analyze really clean audio for a change.