The Young and the Old: (t) Release in Elderspeak

  • James Michaelov The University of Edinburgh
Keywords: style shifting, intraspeaker variation, sociophonetics, UK English, elder-directed speech

Abstract


Elderspeak refers to a speech style used when talking to the elderly. The aim of this study was to find out whether a higher rate of standard phonetic variants of phonemes is a feature of elderspeak. To test this, the (t) release in the speech of the radio presenter Kirsty Young was analysed, comparing her speech towards younger and older guests. A significant correlation was found between her rate of (t) release and the age of the guests. After analysing the results, an alternative account of elderspeak is presented as well as possible avenues of future research.

References

Benor, Sarah Bunin. 2001. The learned /t/: Phonological variation in Orthodox Jewish English. University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics 7(3):1–16.
Boersma, Paul, and David Weenink. 2016. Praat: Doing phonetics by computer [Computer programme, Version 6.0.21]. Accessed 27 October 2016, http://www.praat.org/
Bucholtz, Mary. 1996. Geek the girl: Language, femininity, and female nerds. In Gender and Belief Systems: Proceedings of the Fourth Berkeley Women and Language Conference, ed. J. Ahlers, L. Bilmes, M. Chen, M. Oliver, N. Warner, and S. Wertheim, 119–132. Berkeley: Berkeley Women and Language Group.
Caporael, Linnda R. 1981. The paralanguage of caregiving: Baby talk to the institutionalized aged. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 40(5):876–884. https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-3514.40.5.876
Cohen, Gillian, and Dorothy Faulkner. 1986. Does “elderspeak” work? The effect of intonation and stress on comprehension and recall of spoken discourse in old age. Language & Communication 6(112):91–98. https://doi.org/10.1016/0271-5309(86)90008-x
Coupland, Nikolas. 2001. Language, situation, and the relational self: Theorizing dialect-style in sociolinguistics. In Style and Sociolinguistic Variation, ed. P. Eckert and J. R. Rickford, 185–210. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/cbo9780511613258.012
Coupland, Nikolas, Justine Coupland, Howard Giles, and Karen Henwood. 1988. Accommodating the elderly: Invoking and extending a theory. Language in Society 17(1):1–41. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0047404500012574
Desert Island Discs. n.d. [BBC Radio 4 programme]. Accessed 10 November 2015, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qnmr
Docherty, Gerard J., and Paul Foulkes. 1999. Derby and Newcastle: Instrumental phonetics and variationist studies. In Urban Voices: Accent Studies in the British Isles, ed. P. Foulkes and G. J. Docherty, 47–71. London: Arnold.
Docherty, Gerard J., Paul Foulkes, James Milroy, Lesley Milroy, and David Walshaw. 1997. Descriptive adequacy in phonology: A variationist perspective. Journal of Linguistics 33(2):275–310. https://doi.org/10.1017/s002222679700649x
Draper, Peter. 2005. Patronizing speech to older patients: A literature review. Reviews in Clinical Gerontology 15(3–4):273– 79. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0959259806001869
Eckert, Penelope. 2001. Style and social meaning. In Style and Sociolinguistic Variation, ed. P. Eckert and J. R. Rickford, 119–26. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/cbo9780511613258.008
Eckert, Penelope. 2003. The meaning of style. Texas Linguistic Forum 47: 41–53. Accessed 25 October 2016, http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.526.2921&rep=rep1&type=pdf
Eckert, Penelope. 2008. Variation and the indexical field. Journal of Sociolinguistics 12(4):453–476. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9841.2008.00374.x
Fernald, Anne, and Thomas Simon. 1984. Expanded intonation contours in mothers’ speech to newborns. Developmental Psychology 20(1):104–113. https://doi.org/10.1037//0012-1649.20.1.104
Foulkes, Paul, Gerard Docherty, and Dominic Watt. 2005. Phonological variation in child-directed speech. Language 81(1):177–206. https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.2005.0018
Fukaya, Teruhiko, and Dani Byrd. 2005. An articulatory examination of word-final flapping at phrase edges and interiors. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 35(1):45–58. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0025100305001891
Günthner, Susanne. 1999. Polyphony and the “layering of voices” in reported dialogues: An analysis of the use of prosodic devices in everyday reported speech. Journal of Pragmatics 31(5):685–708. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0378-2166(98)00093-9
Guy, Gregory R., and Charles Boberg. 1997. Inherent variability and the obligatory contour principle. Language Variation and Change 9(2):149–164. https://doi.org/10.1017/s095439450000185x
Irvine, Judith T. 2001. “Style” as distinctiveness: The culture and ideology of linguistic differentiation. In Style and Sociolinguistic Variation, ed. P. Eckert and J. R. Rickford, 21–43. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/cbo9780511613258.002
Kemper, Susan. 1994. Elderspeak: Speech accommodations to older adults. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition 1(1):17–28. https://doi.org/10.1080/09289919408251447
Kemper, Susan, and Tamara Harden. 1999. Experimentally disentangling what’s beneficial about elderspeak from what’s not. Psychology and Aging 14(4):656–670. https://doi.org/10.1037//0882-7974.14.4.656
Kemper, Susan, Patrice Ferrell, Tamara Harden, Catherine Billington, and Andrea Finter-Urczyk. 1998a. Use of elderspeak by young and older adults to impaired and unimpaired listeners. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition (Neuropsychology, Development and Cognition: Section B) 5(1):43–55. https://doi.org/10.1076/anec.5.1.43.22
Kemper, Susan, Andrea Finter-Urczyk, Patrice Ferrell, Tamara Harden, and Catherine Billington. 1998b. Using elderspeak with older adults. Discourse Processes 25(1):55–73. https://doi.org/10.1080/01638539809545020
Kemper, Susan, Meghan Othick, Jennifer Warren, Julia Gubarchuk, and Hope Gerhing. 1996. Facilitating older adults’ performance on a referential communication task through speech accommodations. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition 3(1):37–55. https://doi.org/10.1080/13825589608256611
Kuhl, Patricia K., Jean E. Andruski, Inna A. Chistovich, Ludmilla A. Chistovich, Elena V. Kozhevnikova, Viktoria L. Ryskina,…Francisco Lacerda. 1997. Cross-language analysis of phonetic units in language addressed to infants. Science 277(5326):684–686. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.277.5326.684
Lahiri, Aditi, and Vincent Evers. 1991. Palatalization and coronality. Phonetics and Phonology 2:79–100. https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-544966-3.50011-7
Lanceley, Anne. 1985. Use of controlling language in the rehabilitation of the elderly. Journal of Advanced Nursing 10(2):125–35. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2648.1985.tb00502.x
Lindblom, B. 1990. Explaining phonetic variation: A sketch of the H&H Theory. In Speech Production and Speech Modelling, ed. W. J. Hardcastle and A. Marchal, 403–39. NATO ASI Series 55. Springer Netherlands. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-009-2037-8_16
Marshall, Jonathan. 2003. The changing sociolinguistic status of the glottal stop in northeast Scottish English. English World-Wide 24(1):89–108. https://doi.org/10.1075/eww.24.1.06mar
Milroy, James, Lesley Milroy, Sue Hartley, and David Walshaw. 1994. Glottal stops and Tyneside glottalization: Competing patterns of variation and change in British English. Language Variation and Change 6(3):327–357. https://doi.org/10.1017/s095439450000171x
Patrick, Peter L. 1991. Creoles at the intersection of variable processes: -t, d deletion and past-marking in the Jamaican mesolect. Language Variation and Change 3(2):171–189. https://doi.org/10.1017/s095439450000051x
Picheny, Michael A., Nathaniel I. Durlach, and Louis D. Braida. 1986. Speaking clearly for the hard of hearing II: Acoustic characteristics of clear and conversational speech. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 29(4):434–446. https://doi.org/10.1044/jshr.2904.434
Podesva, Robert J. 2008. Three sources of stylistic meaning. Accessed 13 December 2015, http://web.stanford.edu/class/linguist159/restricted/readings/Podesva2007StylisticMeaning.pdf
Podesva, Robert J., Jermay Reynolds, Patrick Callier, and Jessica Baptiste. 2015. Constraints on the social meaning of released /t/: A production and perception study of U.S. politicians. Language Variation and Change 27(1):59–87. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0954394514000192
Podesva, Robert J., Sarah J. Roberts, and Kathryn Campbell-Kibler. 2002. Sharing resources and indexing meanings in the production of gay styles. In Language and Sexuality: Contesting Meaning in Theory and Practice, ed. K. Campbell-Kibler, R. J. Podesva, S. J. Roberts, and A. Wong, 175–189. Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications.
RStudio Team. 2015. RStudio: Integrated development for R [Computer programme, Version 0.99.489]. Accessed 12 December 2015, http://www.rstudio.com
Ryan, Ellen Bouchard, Richard Y. Bourhis, and Uus Knops. 1991. Evaluative perceptions of patronizing speech addressed to elders. Psychology and Aging 6(3):442–450. https://doi.org/10.1037//0882-7974.6.3.442
Ryan, Ellen Bouchard, Howard Giles, Giampiero Bartolucci, and Karen Henwood. 1986. Psycholinguistic and social psychological components of communication by and with the elderly. Language & Communication 6(1):1–24. https://doi.org/10.1016/0271-5309(86)90002-9
Ryan, Ellen Bouchard, Mary Lee Hummert, and Linda H. Boich. 1995. Communication predicaments of aging: Patronizing behavior toward older adults. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 14(1–2):144–66. https://doi.org/10.1177/0261927x95141008
Samuelsson, Christina, Elin Adolfsson, and Hanna Persson. 2013. The use and characteristics of elderspeak in Swedish geriatric institutions. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics 27(8):616–31. https://doi.org/10.3109/02699206.2013.773382
Sankoff, Gillian, and Hélène Blondeau. 2007. Language change across the lifespan: /R/ in Montreal French. Language 83(3):560–88. https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.2007.0106
Scarborough, Rebecca, Olga Dmitrieva, Lauren Hall-Lew, Yuan Zhao, and Jason Brenier. 2007. An acoustic study of real and imagined foreigner-directed speech. In Proceedings of the 16th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, ed. J.
Trouvain and W. J. Barry, 2165–2168. Dudweiler: Pirrot GmbH. Accessed 19 October 2016, http://www.icphs2007.de/conference/Papers/1673/index.html
Schuppler, Barbara, Wim van Dommelen, Jacques Koreman, and Mirjam Ernestus. 2009. Word-final [t]-deletion: An analysis on the segmental and sub-segmental level. In Proceedings of the 10th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association (Interspeech 2009), 2275–2278. Causal Productions Pty Ltd. Accessed 26 October 2016, http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.149.3753&rep=rep1&type=pdf
Simpson, Joy. 2002. Elderspeak—Is it helpful or just baby talk? In The Know. Merrill Advanced Studies Center, The University of Kansas. Accessed 13 December 2015, http://dept.ku.edu/~merrill/PDFfiles/Elderspeak.pdf
Snow, Catherine E. 1972. Mothers’ speech to children learning language. Child Development 43(2):549–65. https://doi.org/10.2307/1127555
Trudgill, Peter. 1988. Norwich revisited: Recent linguistic changes in an English urban dialect. English World-Wide 9(1):33–49. https://doi.org/10.1075/eww.9.1.03tru
Waterstones. 2012. Kirsty Young introduces Desert Island Discs: 70 Years of Castaways [YouTube Video]. Accessed 15 December 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AD7NwCAAAgM
Wickham, Hadley. 2009. ggplot2. New York, NY: Springer New York. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-98141-3
Williams, Kristine, Susan Kemper, and Mary Lee Hummert. 2003. Improving nursing home communication: An intervention to reduce elderspeak. The Gerontologist 43(2):242–47. https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/43.2.242
Zellner Keller, Brigitte. 2006. Ageing and speech prosody. In Speech Prosody 2006, ed. R. Hoffmann and H. Mixdorff, 696–701. Accessed 15 December 2015, http://www.isca-speech.org/archive/sp2006
Zhang, Qing. 2005. A Chinese yuppie in Beijing: Phonological variation and the construction of a new professional identity. Language in Society 34(3):431–466. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0047404505050153
Zsiga, Elizabeth C. 1995. An acoustic and electropalatographic study of lexical and postlexical palatalization in American English. In Phonology and Phonetic Evidence: Papers in Laboratory Phonology IV, ed. B. Connell and A. Arvaniti, 282–302. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/cbo9780511554315.020
How to Cite
Michaelov, J. (11). The Young and the Old: (t) Release in Elderspeak. Lifespans and Styles, 3(1), 2-9. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.2218/ls.v3i1.2017.1823
Section
Articles