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Department of Cognitive Science

Seminar Abstract

Investigating phonetic variation and language change in first and second generation Italo-Australians’ speech through the Italian Roots (IRIAS) Corpus (CLaS-CCD Research Colloquium Series)

Speaker : Dr Vincenzo Galatà, The MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development, Western Sydney University .
Date : 28th of November 2017, 11:00AM until 12:00PM
Location : Australian Hearing Hub, Level 3, 3.610, Macquarie University.

    The way we use language characterizes us as members of a specific community of speakers and the way we speak reflects influences from the environment in which we live and build our personal experiences. In such a context, speech patterns undergo subtle or even significant changes under the pressure of different sociolinguistic factors, including the contact of multiple languages in immigrant communities. Italian represents one of the top ten non-English languages spoken today in Australia, as one of the native languages of waves of Italian immigrants since the mid-1900’s. Previous studies on the Italian-Australian community have examined language change in the lexicon, grammar and pragmatic features of those speakers, finding both resilience and change in each of these domains. However, the regionally differentiated speech characteristics of their linguistic identity have been neglected. After a brief review of the relevant literature supporting the undertaken research, I will first introduce and provide a brief overview of the Italian Roots In Australian Soil (IRIAS) speech corpus. This was designed to investigate cross-linguistic influences in how socio-phonetic peculiarities found in the heritage local regional Dialect of Italo-Australian first and second generation speakers affect the spoken productions of both their regional variety of Italian and their English, and vice versa. I will conclude my talk by presenting some of the first preliminary results based on portions of the IRIAS corpus.

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