Colloquium: Dr. Danielle Turton

Dr. Danielle Turton (Newcastle University) will be presenting a talk co-authored with Dr. Maciej Baranowski (University of Machester).

Title: “Towards the optimal indicators of social class: comparing stable and changing variables in a variety of Northern British English”


All are welcome to attend.

*Note: This event is eligible for LOC credit. That said, we remind students to please treat this event respectfully: please attend only if you are able to be present for the entire presentation and discussion (within the posted time limits), and understand that this is a high-level, research-oriented presentation. The topic, presentation, and discussion may not be entirely accessible to those without a fair bit of linguistic training.



This study revisits the question of the optimal indicators of socioeconomic position with data from a large-scale study of Manchester, UK, based on the acoustic analysis of 122 speakers stratified by age, gender, ethnicity, and social class, operationalised as occupational levels, educational levels, number of years in education, and socioeconomics of the speaker’s neighbourhood based on Census data.

The linguistic variables:


Stable: Changes in progress:
goose-fronting before /l/ goat-fronting
happY-laxing lettER-lowering
strut-lowering Intervocalic t-glottalling


Predictors are considered individually and in combination with each other. Different methods for dealing with collinear data are discussed, including mixed-effects models, random forests and variance-inflation factors.

The results show that although occupation is the best predictor for some variables, e.g. goose-fronting before /l/, adding education improves the explanation for others. For strut-lowering, education does as well as occupation, supporting the hypothesis that education has a cumulative effect, affecting variables whose realisation may change across the speaker’s lifespan.