An evaluation of usage-based approaches to the modelling of sociophonetic variability

Gerard Docherty, Paul Foulkes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this paper is to provide a sociophonetic perspective on debate relating to the role of usage-based approaches in accounting for language variation. The bulk of the paper focuses on the potential inherent within exemplar-based models of phonological representation to account for the production, processing and acquisition of social-indexical information woven into the speech signal alongside lexical-propositional content. The critical evaluation which is developed within the paper focuses on the integration of the social-indexical channel with other strands of information within the speech signal, on the extent to which the performance of individual speakers is seen as relevant in accounts of production, perception and acquisition, and on how, within a usage-based approach such as an exemplar-model, an appropriate balance can be achieved between bottom-up and top-down processing of the phonetic substance contained within the speech signal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-56
Number of pages15
Early online date15 Aug 2013
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


  • Sociophonetics
  • Exemplar-model
  • Phonological Variation
  • Phonological Representation

Cite this