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Automatic Sociophonetics: Exploring corpora using a forensic accent recognition system

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/07/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number1
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)422-433
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper demonstrates how the Y-ACCDIST system, the York ACCDIST-based automatic accent recognition system [Brown (2015). Proceedings of the International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, Glasgow, UK], can be used to inspect sociophonetic corpora as a preliminary “screening” tool. Although Y-ACCDIST's intended application is to assist with forensic casework, the system can also be exploited in sociophonetic research to begin unpacking variation. Using a subset of the PEBL (Panjabi-English in Bradford and Leicester) corpus, the outputs of Y-ACCDIST are explored, which, it is argued, efficiently and objectively assess speaker similarities across different linguistic varieties. The ways these outputs corroborate with a phonetic analysis of the data are also discovered. First, Y-ACCDIST is used to classify speakers from the corpus based on language background and region. A Y-ACCDIST cluster analysis is then implemented, which groups speakers in ways consistent with more localised networks, providing a means of identifying potential communities of practice. Additionally, the results of a Y-ACCDIST feature selection task that indicates which specific phonemes are most valuable in distinguishing between speaker groups are presented. How Y-ACCDIST outputs can be used to reinforce more traditional sociophonetic analyses and support qualitative interpretations of the data is demonstrated.