[WS126] Socio-cognitive aspects of language attitude variation


Authors: Alexei Prikhodkine, Dennis R. Preston

Title: Socio-cognitive aspects of language attitude variation

There is ample evidence in sociolinguistics which shows that evaluative reactions (i.e. attitudes) towards linguistic stimuli are determined, to a large extent, by the association of linguistic features and social groups and by the stereotypes attached to the latter (Preston, 2010). Assuming that the activity by which speakers proceed to a social attribution of linguistic stimuli is a cognitive process, one must admit that it is subject to variation depending on context (Brubaker, 2001). This observation is of prime importance when eliciting linguistic attitudes since investigation conditions actually imply a specific context (Garrett, 2010). The experimental design – the content and the form of questions and stimuli – may lead the respondents to engage in numerous inferential activities that the researcher is not always capable of controlling (Lorenzi-Cioldi, 1997). Paradoxically, sociolinguists have granted relatively little attention to the social context of language attitude production, despite the fact that the social impact of speaker categorization is central to their concerns.

This symposium aims precisely at a better understanding of the effects of elicitation conditions on language attitude variation. Through the presentation and evaluation of recent work, this meeting will explore the following topics: a) To what extent does the mode of presentation of linguistic stimuli have an effect on the cognitive activities used by speakers in order to express their opinion on language? b) What are the contextual cues which influence the social attribution of stimuli? c) How can various investigative techniques account for socio-cognitive aspects of the language attitude variation, and what is the heuristic potential of innovative methodologies (e.g. IAT applications in linguistics)?

This workshop will feature scholars working in various linguistic subfields (e.g., sociophonetics, perceptual dialectology, social psychology of language) and will attempt to shed light on the topic based on data produced in various settings and by means of various methods. In each case, however, and in keeping with the overall theme of the conference, the participants will be asked to reflect on the cognitive models suggested and procedures evoked by this variety of investigative approaches to language attitudes, beliefs, and ideologies.


a) The workshop will consist of three thematic sessions (2 hours each) in keeping with the schedule of the conference. Each session will include three 30-minute presentations and a 30-minute round table and audience discussion of the three papers at the end of the session.

b) All contributions to the workshop have been selected directly by the organizers. The list of proposed speakers is as follows: Peter Garrett (Cardiff University), Stefan Grondelaers & Roeland van Hout (Radboud University Nijmegen), Tore Kristiansen (University of Copenhagen), Nancy Niedzielski (Rice University), Andrew Pantos (Metropolitan State College of Denver), Dennis R. Preston (Oklahoma and Michigan State Universities), Alexei Prikhodkine (University of Lausanne), Christoph Purschke (Philipps-Universität Marburg), and Laura Staum Casasanto (Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics).

c) The scientific quality of the workshop is guaranteed by the research histories of the organizers and invited participants. Their work directly relates to the topic of variability in language attidude elicitation and interpretation.

e) No external support is provided.



Brubaker R. (2001). « Au-delà de l’identité », Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 139, pp. 66-85.

Garrett P. (2010). Attitudes to Languages. New-York : Cambridge University Press.

Lorenzi-Cioldi F. (1997). Questions de méthodologie en sciences sociales. Lausanne-Paris : Delachaux et Niestlé.

Preston D. R. (2010). « Variation in Language Regard », in Zeigler E., Gilles P. & Scharloth J. (eds.), Variatio delectat : Empirische Evidenzen und theoretische Passungen sprachlicher Variation. Frankfurt am Main : Peter Lang, pp. 7-27.

23.07.2013   10:30-12:30

Title: Theoretical Insights
Chair: Alexei Prikhodkine

10:30 - 11:00 Dennis PRESTON
The cycle of attitude and language change
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11:00 - 11:30 Christoph PURSCHKE
The cultural grounding of language attitudes
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11:30 - 12:00 Nancy NIEDZIELSKI
What Houstonians Don't Know They Know About Language and Race
> read abstract...
12:00 - 12:30 Alexei PRIKHODKINE et al.
Round table and audience discussion (1)

23.07.2013   14:00-16:00

Title: Language Attitudes, Variation and Change
Chair: Dennis Preston

14:00 - 14:30 Alexei PRIKHODKINE
Attitudes, variation, and language detail: effects of specifying linguistic stimuli
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14:30 - 15:00 Tore KRISTIANSEN
Construction of valid attitudinal data in investigations of linguistic variation and change
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15:00 - 15:30 Roeland VAN HOUT et al.
Where is Dutch really heading? On the use of attitude measurements to determine the limits of standard languages
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15:30 - 16:00 Alexei PRIKHODKINE et al.
Round table and audience discussion (2)

23.07.2013   16:30-18:30

Title: Exemplary Studies
Chair: Nancy Niedzielski

16:30 - 17:00 Andrew PANTOS
Applying the Implicit Association Test to language attitudes research
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17:00 - 17:30 Brian LOUDERMILK
The neural dimensions of attitudinal input
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17:30 - 18:00 Barbara SOUKUP
Speaker evaluation as a speech event: A social constructionist recast of experimental research on ‘language attitudes’ and its implications
> read abstract...
18:00 - 18:30 Alexei PRIKHODKINE et al.
Round table and audience discussion (3)