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Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English Composition



First Reader/Committee Chair

Vickers, Caroline


This paper looks at the relationship between emotion and vowel length in spontaneous speech, specifically during narratives. It is hypothesized that during emotionally-laden speech, vowel length will be longer in duration than when in non-emotional speech. Data is drawn from the Univerisity of California, Santa Barbara linguistic corpus, with conversations focused on individuals in and around Southern California. The paper builds on work by Dabbs et al., Banse & Scherer, Estes & Adelman, and others regarding the nature of cognitive monitoring, as well as stance as discussed by Ochs & Schieffelin, Ochs, Kärkkainen, Local & Walker, and how emotion is displayed in speech.

Tokens chosen for analysis are /ɑ/, /ɑɪ/, and /ə/. Three of each token in first syllable position is collected for analysis from both emotional and non-emotional speech. Analysis of tokens then takes place by (mean) averaging each token's length for each speaker in each stance, then the total vowel average time is calculated again for each speaker in each stance. Beyond intra-vowel, intra-speaker averages, inter-speaker average is calculated to assess consistency of the vowel length changes between stances. The paper finds that the length of tokens shows an average increase during intraspeaker emotional speech.