Launching Listen to Lansing!
This project is a website showcasing the results of a study I am in the process of conducting with colleagues in the Michigan State Sociolinguistics Lab. For this project, we are investigating language change in the Greater Lansing Area (Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties). Analyzing the vowels produced by Lansing natives born between 1908 and 1997, my colleagues and I have been able to chart the decline of the local dialect spoken here in Lansing over a century of time.
Intended to be a resource for non-linguist audiences, this website provides (1) a general introduction to the dialect spoken in Michigan and the surrounding states, (2) a description of the research my colleagues and I have conducted and the results thereof including a graph showing the incremental decline in local dialect features, along with 5 second clips of speakers from each generation in our sample, and finally (3) resources, contact information and links to supplemental materials on language change in the United States are provided.
As for logistics, I created my website on GitHub, using a bootstrap theme as a base. The chart showing dialect decline was created using AMCharts’ online chart editor. The code for this chart was embedded into the HTML code of the main website. The data used for this chart was generated via acoustical analysis of the vowels produced by the speakers in my sample. Vowel measurements were made and speakers were categorized according to sociolinguistic thresholds already established in the field of dialectology. The small sound files were spliced out of individual interviews using the phonetic software PRAAT and inserted into the website’s HTML code using the ‘source’ element. Lastly, all supplementary material (published articles and websites) was embedded as hyperlinks into the HTML.
As stated earlier, this website is intended for those less familiar with linguistics who are interested in language change in Lansing and/or Michigan. It is also intended to act as a resource for those wishing to gain more knowledge about American dialects and/or language change in the United States. Currently, I am working on adding two things to this site: (1) a map to the site that showcasing the representative Greater Lansing communities in our sample, and (2) a recording widget whereby visitors to the site can contribute to ongoing research by recording themselves speaking. The site can be accessed through http://listentolansing.matrix.msu.edu/