A Multi-factorial Approach to Analyzing Individual Differences among Heritage Speakers

When and Where

Friday, January 14, 2022 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Online, Zoom


Charles B. Chang


Our Department is glad to welcome Charles B. Chang as our first guest in the Lecture Series for 2022, to talk about his joint work with Yao Yao (Hong Kong Polytechnic University).

About the Presentation
In this talk, I will describe an individual difference-oriented approach to the dual sound systems of American heritage speakers (HSs) of Mandarin Chinese that is broadly applicable to HSs of any language. Incorporating detailed socio-demographic data and production data on segmentals and suprasegmentals, this approach involves building holistic demographic and phonetic profiles for HSs, as well as "native" speakers and late learners, in service of two goals: (1) exploring how different aspects of their two languages (Mandarin, English) may develop in relation to each other, and (2) relating individual variation in production to socio-demographic factors. Using multiple factor analysis (MFA), I will describe the range of these phonetic profiles as well as clusters of variation defined by different socio-demographic factors, and argue that some socio-demographic factors (e.g., age of arrival, languages spoken at home) have more predictive power for phonetic profiles than others. Overall, the results suggest a significant, if limited, link between socio-demographic factors and production, but only in the heritage language. I will conclude by discussing the relative merits of standard group-based approaches and individual-centered approaches such as the one described in this talk.

About the Presenter
Charles B. Chang is Associate Professor of Linguistics at Boston University (BU), where he directs the Phonetics, Acquisition & Multilingualism Lab (PAMLab: sites.bu.edu/pamlab) and holds affiliations with the Center for Innovation in Social Science, Center for the Study of Asia, and Hearing Research Center. Funded in part by a Peter Paul Career Development Professorship, the BU Center for the Humanities, and the National Science Foundation, his research examines aspects of language learning, bilingualism, and language attrition. Links to publications can be found on his website at cbchang.com.

Contact Information


Department of Spanish & Portuguese