Focus Lecture FLC2018: Gerard Docherty

Exploring the social-indexical properties of speech: progress and prospects

Gerard Docherty

Griffith University, Queensland, Australia



Over the last 25 years there has been a sharp growth in the attention paid by researchers to the social-indexical characteristics of speech performance to the extent that sociophonetic studies are now central to many current theoretical debates. These developments have been fuelled by the increasingly easy accessibility of large speech corpora, and refinement of the tools to analyse these and for undertaking statistical modelling of the speech patterns that they encapsulate. In this paper, I highlight some of the pivotal contributions that sociophonetic research has made to our understanding of speech production and speech processing. I discuss some critical theoretical and methodological developments, and I consider the wider implications of sociophonetic research for areas such as first and second language acquisition, and the assessment of the speech in populations of speakers with impaired speech production.



Gerry Docherty is Professor and Dean (Research) in the Arts, Education & Law Faculty at Griffith University in Queensland. A common strand through all Gerry’s research work has been a focus on quantitative acoustic analysis of aspects of speech with a view to enhancing understanding of the nature of phonetic variability and its implications for phonetic theory. While much of his work has been focused on normal adult speakers, he has also investigated the acquisition of speech sound patterning in children and the nature of speech in populations of speakers with impaired speech production. He is currently Chief Investigator on the Australian Research Council-funded Discovery Project entitled The social dynamics of language: a study of phonological variation and change in West Australian English.

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