Fascinating undergraduate research in languages, linguistics and area studies

I’ve just been reading the latest edition of Début, the undergraduate research journal for languages, linguistics and area studies and came across a fascinating piece of linguistics research by Emily Moline from the University of Florida http://www.studyinglanguages.ac.uk/sites/default/files/pages/108/Debutv3n2.pdf

Moline has carried out a small research study on the use of uptalk by men and women in conversation. Uptalk refers to the tendency to use rising intonation (as in a question) at the end of a statement. It has previously been suggested that uptalk is a feature of young women’s talk and that it signals lack of confidence. Moline used participant-directed home recordings of conversations with three pairs (female, male, male & female) to investigate the following research questions:

  • Do women have higher uptalk usage?
  • How is uptalk used by men and women?

Her findings indicated that uptalk is used by speakers to signal that they would like to continue holding the floor so in effect, it is a way of extending the speaker’s turn. Interestingly, results did not show greater use of uptalk among female speakers – male speakers were found to use it too.

This was a small study and of course, more research would be needed to replicate findings but it is another very worthwhile piece of undergraduate research and is accessible online through Début.

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