14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)

San Francisco, CA, USA
August 1-7, 1999

Prosodic Style Shifting in a Northern Irish Village

Ellen Douglas-Cowie (1), Roddy Cowie (2)

(1) School of English; (2) School of Psychology;
Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK

This study complements a widely cited report of code switching in a Northern Ireland community. In an earlier study Douglas-Cowie contrasted speech styles at segmental levels during (a) conversation with members of the community and (b) conversation with an outsider. The tapes have been reanalysed to examine contrasts at a prosodic level. Analysis makes two broad points. First, males and females behave differently across a range of prosodic measures. Second, a group of related measures change in a distinctive way between formal and informal conversation. What people do with a high status stranger is to modify the prosodic habits that distinguish their informal speech. Those who tend to make large pitch movements in informal speech reduce them, and those who tend to make small pitch movements in informal speech increase them. The evidence is suggestive rather than conclusive, but the area stands in need of good hypotheses.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Douglas-Cowie, Ellen / Cowie, Roddy (1999): "Prosodic style shifting in a Northern Irish village", In ICPhS-14, 1585-1588.