What will participants in the study do?

You will take part in a spoken interview with one of the researchers working on the project. The interview will take about an hour, and will cover topics such as your home city and experience growing up in that region, your move to your new city and experience living there, your opinions about New York and Toronto (and the U.S. and Canada generally), and your impressions about how communication and culture differs between the two places. After the interview, you will read a few lists of words out loud. All of these activities will be recorded for later analysis.

Where will the study take place?

Anywhere that is convenient for you, as long as it is reasonably quiet and free from distraction. We'll happily come to your home or office, or a public place that is not too noisy.

What do I get for participating?

You will receive a $20 Amazon gift card upon your completion of study activities. And the satisfaction of helping contribute to scientific knowledge, of course!

I'm intrigued, but not sure I want to be on the spot for a whole hour by myself. Can I bring a friend?

Yes! In fact, we encourage you to bring a friend who is a native of your current region. For example, if you're a native New Yorker living in Toronto and married to a native Torontonian (or vice versa), or a native Torontonian living in New York City whose best friend is from Brooklyn - bring that person along, we'd love to hear both of your perspectives!

What's your recording set-up?

We'll be using a digital recorder connected to small lapel microphones. The equipment is highly portable and fairly unobstrusive; after a few minutes, people often forget it's even there.

Who will hear these recordings?

Dr. Jennifer Nycz (the Principle Investigator on the project) and her student RAs will listen to the recordings in order to analyze them. If (and *only* if) you give your permission, we may also share your data with other researchers; otherwise, your recordings will be kept secure, private, and confidential. If there's anything on the recording you would prefer to disappear, we will delete it.

Am I eligible to participate?

We are looking for native speakers of English with the following characteristics: a) born in New York City (or surrounding metro area) and lived there until at least age 12; currently living in the Toronto metro area for at least five years OR b) born in Toronto (or surrounding metro area) and lived there until at least age 12; currently living in the New York City metro area for at least five years. If either of these describes you and you'd like to participate in the project, contact us!. If you know someone who meets one of these descriptions, please let them know about this website!

What software do you use to analyze speech recordings?

We use several programs to process and analyze the recorded interviews we collect. The interview is transcribed using ELAN, a program that allows us to link bits of transcript text to the exact places where they occured in the recording. We use Python scripts to further segment and align the transcript and recording into smaller, consonant- and vowel-sized pieces, and carry out acoustic analysis using Praat. For statistical analysis, we use R.

How will this project contribute to scientific knowledge?

This project is the largest study of second dialect acquisition to date, and will help us understand speakers' ability to learn and use new dialect forms in new social contexts. It will shed light on just how flexible the human linguistic system is over the lifespan, contributing to the development of theories about how sounds and words are represented within that system. Finally, it will increase our understanding of how individuals use language to negotiate multiple and multilayered identities.

What are the broader impacts of this research?

The findings of this research may have applications in a variety of fields. Understanding how language can change over the lifespan in response to new input can inform language and dialect teaching pedagogy. Assessing the likely range of variation within speakers can help to hone speech-recognition and speech-generating technologies. Knowledge of how mobile speakers are likely to change their accents can aid forensic investigations involving speaker comparison, profiling, or judging authenticity in cases of possible voice or accent disguise. Finally, improved public understanding of how speech varies and how this variation is used by everyone to achieve communicative ends provides a crucial foundation for efforts to stem language-based prejudice and discrimination.

Sounds amazing - how do I sign up?

Fill out this web form and we'll contact you shortly!