Personae and phonetic detail in sociolinguistic signs

Annette D'Onofrio*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Social meaning-based approaches to linguistic variation treat variation as a semiotic system, in which sociolinguistic signs - indexical links between linguistic forms and social meanings - serve as interactional resources that individuals use to project personae. This article explores the perceptual nature of the links between social personae and linguistic forms, examining how information about a speaker's persona can influence a listener's linguistic perceptions of a continuous phonetic feature. Using a phoneme categorization task, this study examines associations between gradient phonetic manifestations on a continuum from /æ/ to /α/ and three social personae. Findings illustrate that the social persona made relevant for a listener influences the ways in which points on this phonetic continuum are categorized phonemically as either trap or lot. Overall, this shows that the social constructs of personae influence phonetically detailed perceptions of linguistic material. (Sociolinguistic perception, personae, indexicality, sociophonetics, sociolinguistic signs)∗

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-539
Number of pages27
JournalLanguage in Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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