Abstract Drafting and Submission

After finishing up all our data analysis, we got to work on drafting an abstract to submit to the LSA conference in January. Regardless of whether or not our abstract gets accepted, the process of reducing our months of research into a 1-page abstract was definitely a good learning experience. I’ve never had to write a formal abstract before, so working with my advisor to decide what was most important to include was stressful at times.

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Coding Responses

While listening to all of the sound files was extremely time consuming (and kind of mind-numbing), coding proved to almost as bad. Since this was essentially a pilot study (i.e. we weren’t working off of much background and were using this to plan for further research), I had nothing to base the coding off of other than our raw data. After talking with my advisor, we decided to use 4 main categories – 1 = perfect, 2 = minor errors, 3 = major errors/unintelligible, and 4  = metathesis. The plan was to hone these categories down as I started listening to data so the coding would effectively summarize our data.

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1,575 sound clips later…

and I can finally say I finished listening to all my data! It was definitely one of the more tedious aspects of this research project and there was absolutely no way around it. My study ended up having 35 participants, each providing data for 45 words. Each participant’s sound file took at least 30 minutes to listen through (for those of you keeping track, that’s 17.5+ hours of listening to made up words) so this was an incredibly daunting task. Chugging through everything took a lot of breaks, some encouragement from my advisor, and a considerable amount of ‘sound free time’ after everything was finished.

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“I don’t think I said it right…”

The past few weeks have been consumed with running participants, many of whom seemed slightly intimidated by the task they were asked to complete. We ended up getting a little over 30 participants found through summer classes and online. I enjoyed running participants because it gave me a chance to work with people face to face, whereas most of my research involves independent work. Each participant took about 20 minutes to run and after each session we were frequently told “I don’t think I said it right…” or “That was really hard”, which wasn’t the most encouraging thing but after listening through about half the data we have quite a bit of usable stuff so things are looking good. Having never run participants before, I enjoyed getting the chance to take more of a “leadership role” with my work but now that it’s over I can focus my time on background research and data analysis!

Investigating Factors Influencing Metathesis

Hi everyone,
My name is Kelsey Renoll and I’m a sophomore at the College. I’m a linguistics and psychology double major and my work this summer will be, as the title of this posts suggest, an investigation of factors influencing metathesis.
Metathesis is a linguistic phenomenon by which two sounds in a word switch places. It’s a rare phenomenon, so little is known about it but instances of it taking place can be seen historically, in daily speech, and as a phonological process. A famous historical example is the metathesis of s and k in the English word ask, which used to be said aks or h and r in the English word horse, which used to be hrose. Metathesis is also found in a number of the world’s languages as a phonological process and  even happens in daily speech (e.g. saying nuculer instead of nuclear).
As little is known about the subject, my aim this summer is to investigate metathesis in a more experimental setting in order to discover any factors that might contribute to its occurrence. My work will be based in uncovering what is currently known about metathesis and why it happens and comparing that to any findings from my experimentation. Without giving too much away about my methodology, my work will essentially consist of identifying what settings make metathesis more or less likely based on data collected from speech production experiments.Ideally, my experimentation will yield results in line with the current understanding of metathesis, but I have yet to find another experimental investigation of metathesis so I’m not entirely sure what to expect!