Sociolinguistics, Sociophonetics, and Speech Science Research

Rankinen Photo

The S4 Research Laboratory:

Principle investigator:

Wil A. Rankinen, Ph.D.

The lab space is located at:

Raleigh Finkelstein Hall

500 Layfayette Avenue NE, Office 303H

Grand Rapids, MI 49503

S4 Research Logo


Online Geolinguistic Survey Research:


The Sauna Survey

The Sauna Survey

Ever wonder why people pronounce "sauna" differently across the Upper Midwest region of the United States?

The present on-line survey is your opportunity to contribute to the debate and help us better understand how and why people pronounce this term the way that they do.


The U.P. Words Survey

The U.P. Words Survey

Ever wonder why people from Michigan's Upper Peninsula (U.P.) use certain words or pronounce them differently compared to others across the Upper Midwest region of the United States?

The present on-line survey is your opportunity to contribute to the debate and help us better understand how and why people use and pronounce certain U.P. words the way that they do.


The Yooper Survey

The Yooper Survey

"What is a Yooper? For some this is a lifestyle, while for others, it is a birthright. What does it mean to you?

The present on-line survey is your opportunity to contribute to the debate and help us better understand how and why people conceptualize the term "Yooper" differently.


Sociolinguistic Fieldwork & Research:


The MQT Finnish- and Italian-American Corpus

The Marquette County Finnish- and Italian-American English Corpus

This study investigates the sociophonetic data of a 130-speaker corpus of Finnish- and Italian-American residents from Michigan's Marquette County. All data was collected during the summers of 2007 and 2008, and the corpus is stratified by language-dominance, age, sex, and educational attainment.

This corpus was published in the dissertation entitled "The Sociophonetic and Acoustic Vowel Dynamics of Michigan's Upper Peninsula English" (Rankinen, 2014); for further details, please refer to this document.

This large-scale project was financially supported by MSU's Undergraduate Research Grant for 2007-2008.

The study is no longer interviewing participants. Thank you for your interest!


The Northern U.P. Talk Study

The Northern U.P. Talk Study

The "How Michiganders Talk in the UP" study (or just "The UP Talk") is a UP-wide project, focusing on the northern regions of the peninsula, to quantitatively investigate an array of linguistic features related to pronunciation (i.e., sociophonetic study). The corpus included a 130-participant sample stratified by location of long-standing residency, age, and sex. All data was collected during the summers of 2017 and 2018.

The study is interested in understanding the similarities and differences (i.e., if they exist) in how native long-standing UP residents produce, perceive and think about the various UP speech patterns.

This large-scale project was financially supported by GVSU's CSCE Catalyst Grant for 2017-2018.

The study is no longer interviewing participants. Thank you for your interest!

Learn More...


The Kent County NCVS Study

The Sociophonetics of NCVS in Kent County among Dutch-Americans

The present study examined whether the vowels of Dutch and non-Dutch ethnic-heritage communities (n=45) in Michigan’s Kent County show signs of the Northern Cities Vowel Shift or its reversal. This study examined a set of sociophonetic characteristics of key vowels as a factor of ethnic-heritage, age, and sex. The guiding study's research question poses to what extent (if any) are the younger-aged groups’ speech productions of the NCVS vowels patterning differently from their middle- and older-aged counterparts among Dutch and non-Dutch ethnic-heritage communities in Kent County; furthermore, if such patterns exist, can either males or females be shown to be leading the observed linguistic change or its reversal (i.e., following principles of sociolinguistic change)?

In collaboration with Taylor Neuhaus, former GVSU undergraduate, and graduate SLP student at Bowling Green University (2018-2020).

The study is no longer interviewing participants. Thank you for your interest!




Page last modified March 7, 2019