Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Drinking and dialect

There's a lot of cool research on intoxicated speech and I figured it'd be in the news as progress is made, but I didn't particularly expect it to come like this article called 'Hey, y'all!' Why 'yous guys' accents come back when you're drinking". Here's the quote about the effects of alcohol (and other things):
“We slur our words, and it’s harder to maintain the motor coordination and control needed for effective fine motor execution needed for speech production,” explains Amee Shah, director of Cleveland State University’s Research Laboratory in Speech Acoustics & Perception.
That's surely part of what's going on. Maybe the Wisconsin linguists working on inebriated speech will comment on that. And maybe Shah will have more to say on this ... the piece is so short that it can't really cover much.

But — assuming that we do become more dialectal when we drink — how much of that is about motor control? I know that when people get really upset, their speech can become much more dialectal. (You know who you are.) That's not motor control. What else is at work?  What's worrisome about the way the article presents it is that it really feeds the stereotype that dialect is lazy speech.


GAC said...

I don't really see how motor control factors into it. Dialect speech isn't necessarily easier from a motor control standpoint. The only thing I could see is the brain may prefer better-established pathways and struggle to deal with weaker pathways when drunk, but that wouldn't specifically affect motor control.

I don't work on drunk speech, but I think with this particular question I'd look for explanations in terms of language processing and social behavior as regulated by the brain. Motor impairment would more contribute to general non-dialect specific changes to drunk speech.

Anonymous said...

Drunkenness, exhaustion, and anger are all associated with reduced inhibitions.