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You change how you speak a lot depending on who you‘re talking to. But I didn‘t change much: a qualitative study on informants‘ experiences of data collection

Conference contribution
Authors Johan Gross
Julia Forsberg
Published in Sociolinguistics Symposium 21. Attitudes and Prestige Murcia 15 - 18 June 2016
Volume 21
Pages 665-666
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science
Pages 665-666
Language en
Keywords 'map task', 'field experiment'
Subject categories Linguistics


While the sociolinguistic interview - the prominent data collection tool within the quantitative paradigm (Labov 1984) - has proven to be a good data collection method linguists are still trying to find alternativ e and complementary ways to elicit speech from peer interaction to ensure that enough tokens of a relevant variable are produced (Friðriksson 2015). Nordberg (1980) argues that group peer interaction may be a safer way to elicit the vernacular than intervi ews. Within other areas of linguistics more experimental setups such as picture - tasks, maze - games and map - tasks have been used to elicit 666 speech. While these are by no means new methods in linguistics and sociolinguistics (e.g. Anderson et al 1991; Grønnum 2009; Nolan & Post 2009; Scobbie et al 2013), they have not been properly evaluated as viable field methods. Sociolinguists have made a number of assumptions about style - shifting in different kinds of interviews and other more directed tasks, such as word lists and reading passages, but studies rarely report on asking informants about their experiences of the data collection context. Researchers tend to assume that informants will experience different levels of formality depending on method, speaking contex t and style. This paper tries to address this by following up on the collection of the corpus Språkbruk i Stockholm och Göteborg ( ̳Language Use in Stockholm and Gothenburg‘), and investigates how some informants experienced the recordings. The corpus comp rises short interviews and map - task recordings (in self - selected peer pairs) with 111 adolescents in Sweden with the purpose of collecting sociophonetic data. To understand the nature of the map - task we view these as speech events (Hymes 1972; Milroy 1987) that are used to gather sociolinguistic/ - phonetic data. Participant roles and turn - taking rights are analysed in order to increase our understanding of the method. In addition to this we performed qualitative telephone interviews with 7 informants after d ata collection was complete, in order to probe their experiences. Here, informants showed a degree of awareness of their accommodation to different recording partners (researchers or peers). Examples include wanting to impress their conversational partner , speaking more calmly and more educatedly, and using less slang with the researchers. Additionally, both informants and researchers found the interview session slightly more formal than the map - task. Informants described the map - task as a game/competition , and speculated that this might have had an effect on their speaking style. There is a clear instruction giver/receiver relationship for each task, however the speakers do switch roles both between and sometimes within map - tasks, for example when clarifyi ng instructions or backtracking, while the interview had more fixed roles. In conclusion the results indicate that the relatively complex map - task created for this study is often seen as a game rather than a direction - giving task where peers interact in w hat they describe as a relatively informal, recorded speech event. The map - task game enables researchers to ensure that informants produce enough tokens (approximately 160 stressed vowels per speaker, over 30 minutes) and is therefore a viable tool for col lecting spontaneous sociolinguistic data.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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