29 dicembre 2008

Brain processing of speech sounds is different in some Southern English speakers

Rice University study focuses on merged vowel sounds in different dialects
When Rice University alumna Brianna Conrey was in third grade in Stillwater, Okla., she misspelled "pen" on a test because her teacher unknowingly pronounced it "pin." At the time, Conrey never would have guessed that she would write a senior thesis in college about the brain activity that takes place in people who don't distinguish between similar-sounding words like "pin" and "pen." Nor would she have guessed that her thesis would get published several years later in the journal Brain and Language.
While working on a B.A. in linguistics at Rice, Conrey wanted to study the variation in spoken American English in certain regions of the U.S. "I lived in a lot of different areas of the country as a kid and was exposed to many different ways of talking, so this topic was really fascinating," Conrey said. "We know from sociolinguistics - the study of language variation and change - that a great deal of phonetic variation occurs even within a single language."

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