Listen to Lansing

The Listen to Lansing website showcases the results of a study conducted by the website creator and their colleagues in the Michigan State Sociolinguistics Lab.  This research project investigates the decline of the local dialect spoken in the Greater Lansing Area (Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties) over the last 100 years.  The website is intended to act as a resource for those wishing to gain more knowledge about American dialects and/or language change in the United States.  Though the website and the project centered around it are developed by linguists, no linguistic knowledge is required to understand or navigate the site.  It features graphical representations of the change in the local dialect over time, exemplar sound files representative of each generation’s version of the Michigan dialect, and links to resources and supplemental materials.

Built on GitHub, the website is broken up into three subpages.  The landing site provides a description of the dialect features spoken in Michigan and the surrounding states.  The second page describes our research methods and illustrates the language change in Lansing with the use of a graph, created using AMCharts, and 5 second audio clips that are representative of each generation’s version of the Michigan dialect. The audio clips were spliced out of recorded interviews using the phonetic software PRAAT and inserted into the website’s HTML code using a ‘source’ element. Lastly, the final, ‘Contacts’, page includes links to resources for those interested in hearing more about the projects being pursued by the researchers, along with links to supplemental materials on language change in the United States. The web developer is currently working on two additions to the project: (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. 

Monica Nesbitt

2016-2017 CHI Grad Fellow Cohort

PhD Candidate, Department of Linguistics & German, Slavic, Asian, and African Languages