The What and the How of that Linguistics survey

by LP

So, remember that survey for actual trufax science I did in January, for my linguistics class? I seem to remember promising to give more details on The What and The How as soon as the complete results for that class were posted. This still hasn’t happened because of Reasons, and by the time it does happen, if ever, no1curr about this thing at all anymore. So I thought “Whatever, I’m just going to post this thing and get it over with”. But then I remembered this:

Students who make a completed assignment, exam or other piece of assessment available to other students without reason, are considered to be plagarising. The faculty sees this activity as undermining the education provided, and will confront the student concerning his/her responsibility for the quality of the study programme. The student will also need to consider that his/her work may be plagiarised by others. In cases of plagiarism, the Examinations Board will investigate whether the author of the source material was an accessory to the fraud. Students who grant access to their assignments, etc. online therefore run the risk of becoming involved in a plagiarism case.

I now wonder if I will get into trouble for posting this quote. *yells “Come for me!” because she watched way too many RuPaul episodes back to back earlier today* But yeah, this is (a part of) the departments “rules” regarding plagiarism. And on the other hand they’re complaining about students never working together. Gee, I wonder why. So I’ll just go for a short and non-specific explanation of what it was all about:

My hypothesis was that the ability to perceive the constitutive sounds of a word is affected by the pronunciation of that word in the native language of a test subject. And since in Dutch words starting with “ps” are pronounced as two separate sounds, I had expected the native Dutch speakers to pronounce English words starting with “ps” the same way, despite the “p” being silent. This would then mean that native Dutch speakers would more often give a higher (= incorrect) amount of sounds for a word starting with “ps” than the native English speakers.

I then compiled a list of 20 test items, 10 starting with an ‘s’ and 10 starting with ‘ps’, both pronounced as ‘s’ in English. And to deflect from what I was actually testing, I added 40 filler words and made sure all words were medical terminology. I set up my survey, found 10 native Dutch speakers (who of course also spoke English) and 10 native English speakers and away we went.

After studying the results, I realised that the way I had set up my experiment was unsound and that the results didn’t prove or disprove my hypothesis. Which is unfortunate, but not a huge issue, since a failed experiment is also an experiment and can be written about. I was even able to figure out solutions to all the issues that surfaced during this experiment, so it all worked out in the end. *all together now: “Yay!”*