Methods for Characterizing Participants' Nonmainstream Dialect Use in Child Language Research Three different approaches to the characterization of research participants' nonmainstream dialect use can be found in the literature. They include listener judgment ratings, type-based counts of nonmainstream pattern use, and tokenbased counts. In this paper, we examined these three approaches, as well as shortcuts to these methods, using language samples ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2002
Methods for Characterizing Participants' Nonmainstream Dialect Use in Child Language Research
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Janna B. Oetting, PhD
    Louisiana State University Baton Rouge
  • Janet L. McDonald
    Louisiana State University Baton Rouge
  • Contact author: Janna Oetting, PhD, Louisiana State University, Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders, 163 Music and Dramatic Arts Building, Baton Rouge, LA 70803-2606.
    Contact author: Janna Oetting, PhD, Louisiana State University, Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders, 163 Music and Dramatic Arts Building, Baton Rouge, LA 70803-2606.×
  • Corresponding author: E-mail: cdjanna@lsu.edu
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2002
Methods for Characterizing Participants' Nonmainstream Dialect Use in Child Language Research
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2002, Vol. 45, 505-518. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2002/040)
History: Received June 22, 2001 , Accepted January 23, 2002
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2002, Vol. 45, 505-518. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2002/040)
History: Received June 22, 2001; Accepted January 23, 2002
Web of Science® Times Cited: 49

Three different approaches to the characterization of research participants' nonmainstream dialect use can be found in the literature. They include listener judgment ratings, type-based counts of nonmainstream pattern use, and tokenbased counts. In this paper, we examined these three approaches, as well as shortcuts to these methods, using language samples from 93 children previously described in J. Oetting and J. McDonald (2001) . Nonmainstream dialects represented in the samples included rural Louisiana versions of Southern White English (SWE) and Southern African American English (SAAE).

Depending on the method and shortcut used, correct dialect classifications (SWE or SAAE) were made for 88% to 97% of the participants; however, regression algorithms had to be applied to the type- and token-based results to achieve these outcomes. For characterizing the rate at which the participants produced the nonmainstream patterns, the token-based methods were found to be superior to the others, but estimates from all approaches were moderately to highly correlated with each other. When type- and/or token-based methods were used to characterize participants' dialect type and rate, the number of patterns included in the analyses could be substantially reduced without significantly affecting the validity of the outcomes. These findings have important implications for future child language studies that are done within the context of dialect diversity.

Acknowledgments
This project was made possible by a grant from NIDCD awarded to the first author and an Interdepartmental Summer Research Stipend from Louisiana State University awarded to both authors. Appreciation is extended to the parents, children, and staff of Ascension Parish, LA, who made collection of the language transcripts possible; to Megan Melacon, Sarah Ross, and Beth Stapleton who served as the expert listeners; and to Lisa Green who served as an external project consultant. In addition, thanks are extended to Lesley Ellison, Lesley Eyles, Lesli Habans, and Anita Hall who assisted with the dialect coding, and to Whitney Posey, Samantha Simpson, and Christy Wynn who edited the audiotaped stimuli and collected the data for the listener judgment task.
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