Innovative Methods in Sociophonetics II

19th April 2017, Edinburgh, UK

Organisers: Anne Fabricius, Nicolai Pharao and Lauren Hall-Lew

We invite submissions on the topic of “Innovative Methods in Sociophonetics,” for paper or poster presentation at a satellite meeting of the 4th Workshop on Sound Change, to be held at the University of Edinburgh on the afternoon of the 19th of April, 2017.

Scientific methods are never ends in themselves, but our methodological choices necessarily reflect the theoretical premises and preconceptions we bring to our research. Uses of either established methods of analysis, or new and innovative ones – sometimes under interdisciplinary influences – often stem from a desire to have the data speak more clearly to us, and as technology develops, so do the methodological possibilities. If methods and methodological frameworks that are established among a group of scholars are confronted by new epistemologies, data, and insights, our analytical techniques have the opportunity to move and change accordingly.

New sociolinguistic and sociophonetic questions often result in particular challenges to both data collection and analysis. In recent years we have seen an increase in the public freeware availability of what were previously highly specialised laboratory-based techniques for acoustic phonetics. This has meant that the specific challenges that are posed by the kind of data obtained from sociolinguistic fieldwork are now open to many different sorts of treatment with a sophisticated array of tools alongside the spectrographic analysis packages that have long been indispensable for our work (for instance, ultrasound technology, electropalatography, and a variety of brain imaging techniques). Along with recent developments in theoretical sociophonetics and in the spread of scientific computing over the past decade, we have seen new methodological techniques emerge, built on new research questions, and new ways of thinking about our discipline and about language and language data itself.

To this end we are holding a workshop to discuss the possibilities that these new techniques provide, and to explore how these methodologies and analytical approaches might have theoretical implications and consequences.

We invite submissions for paper or poster presentation on the topic of “Innovative Methods in Sociophonetics”. Contributions that specifically address the theme of the Workshop on Sound Change, “Individuals and Sound Change”, will be especially welcome. Abstracts (PDF, 12 point font, max 1 page text + 1 page figures and references) may be submitted via EasyAbstracts from 1 August – 21 October 2016.

Our workshop will have talks by two invited plenary speakers:

The Innovative Methods in Sociophonetics group was established in 2014 to showcase new methodologies and techniques in sociophonetics, often stemming from interdisciplinary influences (from, for example, speech technology and forensic science), and to encourage reflection on their implications for our conceptions of language, language variation and change, and the social world. This satellite meeting follows on from an initial network meeting in Roskilde in November 2014, as well as an earlier workshop at Methods XV in Groningen in August 2014 which had as its theme “Of vowels and ‘systems’: New methods for the study of vocalic variation”. The Advances in Visual Methods in Linguistics conference in York in September 2012 was also an important precursor of this work. The group was established as an open network that seeks to explore and spread knowledge of innovative methods that have been opening up sociophonetic analysis in recent years.


Attendance at the IMS2 is free but limited. Please register your interest by emailing Lauren Hall-Lew at Any registration requests made after 31 March 2017 cannot be guaranteed.

Important Dates

  • Abstracts due: 21 October 2016
  • Reviews complete: December 2016
  • IMSII: 19 April 2017
  • Registration due: 31 March 2017

Workshop Schedule

Time Speaker
1:00-1:10 Welcome: Anne Fabricius (chair)
1:10-2:00 Joe Fruehwald TBA
2:00-2:30 Georgina Brown, Megan Jenkins, Jessica Wormald and Dominic Watt: A tin ear for accents? Human vs. machine in accent classification and authentication tasks
2:30-3:00 Coffee
3:00-3:30 Fergus O’Dwyer: Discourse analysis in ethnographic, qualitatively-skewed mixed methods in sociophonetics
3:30-4:00 Vincent Hughes and Jessica Wormald: Assessing typicality in forensic voice comparison: how can sociophonetics help? (and how can sociophonetics benefit?)
4:00-4:50 Jane Stuart-Smith: Through the looking glass: Changing perspectives on gender and the /s ʃ/ contrast in Glasgow
4:50-5:30 General discussion

Steering Committee

Advisory Board