Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Linguistics Vanguard

A Multimodal Journal for the Language Sciences

Editor-in-Chief: Bergs, Alexander / Cohn, Abigail C. / Good, Jeff

CiteScore 2018: 0.95

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.381
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.841

See all formats and pricing
More options …

Changing perspectives on /s/ and gender over time in Glasgow

Jane Stuart-Smith
Published Online: 2020-01-29 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lingvan-2018-0064


This paper considers the relative influence on sociophonetic interpretation of /s/ using “static” and “dynamic” acoustic analysis, where dynamic refers to the use of measures which capture the time-varying nature of segmental acoustics, and static to measures which are taken at a single point, or from an average across the sound (Watson and Harrington 1999, Docherty et al. 2015). Static and dynamic Discrete Cosine Transformation (DCT) analyses of spectral Centre of Gravity (CoG) and spectral Slope measures/trajectories were carried out on gendered productions of /s/ and /ʃ/ for a real- and apparent-time 32 speaker sample of spontaneous Glasgow dialect. Results of static CoG measures, reflecting place of articulation, indicate a reduction of gender differentation over time, such that girls born most recently revert to older vernacular (lower frequency) norms. Adding static spectral Slope, reflecting articulatory constriction, shows a change in gendered differentiation, whereby boys born most recently show a gestural shift. The DCT analysis both confirms the static results and also reveals that dynamic characteristics of both sibilants carry key additional prosodic, linguistic and social information for this community. Our results reflect for the first time the usefulness of changing analytical perspectives on /s/, both in terms of acoustic representation (static and dynamic), but also by considering /s/ alongside its partner sibilant /ʃ/ within the context of shifts in the construction of social gender over time.

Keywords: /s/; gender; dynamic analysis; sound change; sociophonetics


  • Baird, D. 2004. Thing knowledge: A philosophy of scientific instruments. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar

  • Baker, A., D. Archangeli & J. Mielke. 2011. Variability in American English s-retraction suggests a solution to the actuation problem. Language Variation and Change 23. 347–374.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Boersma, P. & D. Weenink. 2013. Praat: Doing phonetics by computer. (www.praat.org).

  • Carter, P. & J. Local. 2007. F2 variation in Newcastle and Leeds English liquid systems. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 37(2). 183–199.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Dijkstra, E. 2012. Selected writings on computing: A personal perspective. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar

  • Docherty, G. J., S. Gonzalez & N. Mitchell. 2015. Static vs dynamic perspectives on the realization of vowel nucleii in West Australian English. In XVIII International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS2015), Glasgow.Google Scholar

  • Eckert, P. 2000. Linguistic variation as social practice. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar

  • Eckert, P. 2003. Elephants in the room. Journal of Sociolinguistics 7(3). 392–397.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Flipsen Jr., P., L. Shriberg, G. Weismer, H. Karlsson & J. McSweeny. 1999. Acoustic characteristics of/s/in adolescents. Journal of Speech, Language, & Hearing Research 42(3). 663–677.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Forrest, K., G. Weismer, P. Milenkovic & R. N. Dougall. 1988. Statistical analysis of word-initial voiceless obstruents: preliminary data. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 84(1). 115–123.PubMedCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Foulkes, P. 2006. Sociophonetics. In K. Brown (ed.), Encyclopedia of language and linguistics, 495–500. Amsterdam: Elsevier Press.Google Scholar

  • Foulkes, P., J. M. Scobbie & D. Watt. 2010. Sociophonetics. In W. J. Hardcastle, J. Laver & F. E. Gibbon (eds.), The handbook of phonetic sciences, 2nd edn., 703–754. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar

  • Fromont, R. & J. Hay. 2012. LaBB-CAT: An annotation store. In Proceedings of the Australasian Language Technology Association Workshop 2012, 113–117.Google Scholar

  • Haddican, B., P. Foulkes, V. Hughes & H. Richards. 2013. Interaction of social and linguistic constraints on two vowel changes in northern England. Language Variation and Change 25(03). 371–403.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Harrington, J. 2010. The phonetic analysis of speech corpora. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar

  • Harrington, J. & F. Schiel. 2017./u/-fronting and agent-based modeling: The relationship between the origin and spread of sound change. Language 93(2). 414–445.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Harrington, J., F. Kleber, U. Reubold, F. Schiel & M. Stevens. 2018. Linking cognitive and social aspects of sound change using agent-based modelling. Topics in Cognitive Science 10. 707–728.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Hay, J. & K. Drager. 2007. Sociophonetics. Annual Review of Anthropology 36. 89–103.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Holliday, J. J., P. F. Reidy, M. E. Beckman & J. Edwards. 2015. Quantifying the robustness of the English sibilant fricative contrast in children. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 58(3). 622–637.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Huggett, J. 2017. The apparatus of digital archaeology. Internet Archaeology 44.Google Scholar

  • Jacewicz, E., R. A. Fox & J. Salmons. 2011. Vowel change across three age groups of speakers in three regional varieties of American English. Journal of Phonetics 39(4). 683–693.CrossrefPubMedWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Jesus, L. M. T. & C. H. Shadle. 2002. A parametric study of the spectral characteristics of European Portuguese fricatives. Journal of Phonetics 30. 437–64.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Johnson, K. 2003. Acoustic and auditory phonetics, 2nd edn. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar

  • Jongman, A., R. Wayland & S. Wong. 2000. Acoustic characteristics of English fricatives. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 108(3). 1252–1263.CrossrefPubMedWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Kirkham, S., C. Nance, B. Littlewood, K. Lightfoot & E. Groarke. 2019. Dialect variation in formant dynamics: The acoustics of lateral and vowel sequences in Manchester and Liverpool English. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 145(2). 784–794.CrossrefWeb of SciencePubMedGoogle Scholar

  • Koenig, L. L., C. H. Shadle, J. L. Preston & C. R. Mooshammer. 2013. Toward improved spectral measures of /s/: Results from adolescents. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 56(4). 1175–1189.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Levon, E., M. Maegaard, & N. Pharao (eds.). 2017. The sociophonetics of /s/. Linguistics, 55.Google Scholar

  • Macafee, C. 1983. Varieties of English around the world: Glasgow. Amsterdam: Benjamin.Google Scholar

  • Morrison, G. S. & P. Assmann (eds.). 2013. Vowel inherent spectral change. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar

  • Podesva, R. J. & S. Kajino. 2014. Sociophonetics, gender, and sexuality. In S. Ehrlich, M. Meyerhoff & J. Holmes (eds.), The handbook of language, gender, and sexuality, 103–122. New Jersey, NJ: Wiley Online Library.Google Scholar

  • R Core Team. 2019. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing. Vienna: Austria.Google Scholar

  • Reidy, P. F. 2015. A comparison of spectral estimation methods for the analysis of sibilant fricatives. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 137(4). 248–254.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Reidy, P. F. 2016. Spectral dynamics of sibilant fricatives are contrastive and language specific. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 140(4). 2518–2529.CrossrefWeb of SciencePubMedGoogle Scholar

  • Sonderegger, M., M. Wagner & T. Francisco. 2018. Quantitative methods for linguistic data. Montreal, v. 1.0 edition. http://people.linguistics.mcgill.ca/∼morgan/book/index.html

  • Sóskuthy, M. 2017. Generalised additive mixed models for dynamic analysis in linguistics: A practical introduction. arXiv preprint arXiv:1703.05339.Google Scholar

  • Stevens, M. & J. Harrington. 2016. The phonetic origins of /s/-retraction: Acoustic and perceptual evidence from Australian English. Journal of Phonetics 58. 118–134.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Stuart-Smith, J. 2003. The phonology of modern urban Scots. In J. Corbett, D. J. McClure & J. Stuart-Smith (eds.), The Edinburgh companion to Scots, 110–137. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar

  • Stuart-Smith, J. 2007. Empirical evidence for gendered speech production: /s/ in Glaswegian. In J. Cole & J. Hualde (eds.), Change in phonology: Papers in laboratory phonology 9, 65–86. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar

  • Stuart-Smith, J., C. Timmins & F. Tweedie. 2007. Talkin’ ’Jockney’? Variation and change in Glaswegian accent. Journal of Sociolinguistics 11(2). 221–260.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Stuart-Smith, J., G. Pryce, C. Timmins & B. Gunter. 2013. Television can also be a factor in language change: Evidence from an urban dialect. Language 89(3). 501–536.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Stuart-Smith, J., R. Lennon, R. Macdonald, D. Robertson, M. Soskuthy, B. José & L. Evers. 2015a. A dynamic acoustic view of real-time change in word-final liquids in spontaneous Glaswegian. In Proceedings of the 18th congress of phonetic sciences (ICPhS 2015), Glasgow.Google Scholar

  • Stuart-Smith, J., M. Sonderegger, R. Macdonald & T. Rathcke. 2015b. The private life of stops: VOT in a real-time corpus of spontaneous Glaswegian. Laboratory Phonology 33(4). 505–459.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Stuart-Smith, J., B. José, T. Rathcke, R. Macdonald & E. Lawson. 2017. Changing sounds in a changing city: An acoustic phonetic investigation of real-time change over a century of Glaswegian. In C. Montgomery & E. Moore (eds.), Language and a sense of place: Studies in language and region, 38–65. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Stuart-Smith, J. 2018. Sound perspectives? Speech and speaker dynamics over a century of Scottish English. In R. Mesthrie & D. Bradley (eds.), The dynamics of language: Plenary and focus lectures from the 20th International Congress of Linguists, 74–92. Cape Town: University of Cape Town Press.Google Scholar

  • Stuart-Smith, J. 2020. A tale of one city: Phonological variation and change over 100+years of Glasgow English. In O. Glain (ed.), English-speaking towns and cities: Memories and narratives. Proceedings of the workshop, St Etienne, 20-21 October 2016. St Etienne: University of St Etienne.Google Scholar

  • Sundara, M. 2005. Acoustic-phonetics of coronal stops: A cross-language study of Canadian English and Canadian French. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 118(2). 1026–1037.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Watson, C. I. & J. Harrington. 1999. Acoustic evidence for dynamic formant trajectories in Australian English vowels. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 106(1). 458–468.CrossrefPubMedGoogle Scholar

  • Williams, D. & P. Escudero. 2014. A cross-dialectal acoustic comparison of vowels in Northern and Southern British English. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 136(5). 2751–2761.CrossrefPubMedWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

About the article

Received: 2019-03-19

Accepted: 2019-06-12

Published Online: 2020-01-29

Citation Information: Linguistics Vanguard, Volume 6, Issue s1, 20180064, ISSN (Online) 2199-174X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lingvan-2018-0064.

Export Citation

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in