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Origins of Sound ChangeApproaches to Phonologization$
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Alan C. L. Yu

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199573745

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199573745.001.0001

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Individual differences in socio‐cognitive processing and sound change

Individual differences in socio‐cognitive processing and sound change

(p.201) 10 Individual differences in socio‐cognitive processing and sound change
Origins of Sound Change

Alan C. L. Yu

Oxford University Press

What motivates the introduction of new linguistic variants, such as a new sound or a new sound pattern, and how these variants flourish and propagate throughout the speech community? This chapter explores the hypothesis of individual variability in cognitive processing as a conduit for linking the introduction of new variants and their eventual spread throughout a community. The proposal advanced in this work consists of three parts. First, it is argued that variability in cognitive processing style is an important contributing factor to variation in perceptual and, by extension, production norms across individuals. Second, such variability in cognitive processing style can be shown to correlate with individual differences in social traits. These social traits may in turn influence how an individual interacts with other members of his/her social network. Taken together, it is argued that individuals who are most likely to introduce new variants in a speech community might also be the same individuals who are most likely to be imitated by the rest of the speech community due to their personality traits and other social characteristics.

Keywords:   perceptual compensation, sound change, personality traits, autistic traits, empathy, brain type

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