Listener perceptions of sociolinguistic variables: The case of (ING)
2005 PhD thesis, Stanford university.
My dissertation explores how the English variable (ING) changes how we are perceived. When you say "I'm working on it" or "I'm workin' on it", what information are you giving to other people about who you are? What are you telling them about what you think of them? Or about the situation you're in? How is that different for different people? Does it matter if you're a man or woman, where you're from or what accent you have?
This page describes my project and the results in very general terms. You can also download the dissertation as a whole in one large PDF file, or look at the table of contents to download PDF files of the individual chapters.
I interviewed eight people, two men and two women each from the South and from the West Coast. From the recording of each interview, I took four excerpts, short stretches where the person used a few examples of (ING). Today's computer software allowed me to "cut-and-paste" them, making pairs that were exactly the same except for (ING):