April 12, 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Contact: Laura Promer
Email: lpromer@samford.edu


Program Overview

Every aspect of language is subject to variation, from lexical items to phonetic gestures to pragmatic concerns. This variation is particularly present in phonology. However, many assessments lack the ability to incorporate variation into the scoring, or they rely on the knowledge and experience of the practitioner to make any necessary adjustments. Given the depth and breadth of variation, many language professionals might feel ill-equipped to fully support all clients, especially when the clinician and client come from different dialectal backgrounds. This talk will provide an overview of phonological variation along with potential impacts on assessment and practice, with a focus on Alabama and the American South. Concrete strategies about how professionals can incorporate this knowledge into assessment will also be discussed.

Learning Objectives

  • Outline the major sources of phonological variation, focusing primarily on features of the US South. 
  • Identify strategies to better accommodate phonological variation in their practice. 
  • Analyze language variation and to understand how a lack of knowledge about variation can and will affect a professional’s practice. 


  • 9:00-9:10 Introduction and Overview – 10 min 
  • 9:10-9:20 Description of the Issue – 10 min 
  • 9:20- 9:40 Aspects of Variation – 20 min 
  • 9:40-10:00Variation and Assessment – 20 min 
  • 10:00- 10:20 Variation and Intervention – 20 min 
  • 10:20-10:35 Closing Remarks – 15 min 
  • 10:35-11:00 Q & A – 25 min 

Speaker Bio

Paul E. Reed, PhD, is an associate professor of phonology/speech science at the University of Alabama. His research focuses on the sociophonetic variation and change in the English varieties of the American South, particularly of the Appalachian region. His research analyzes the impact of local identity on a variety of phonological features. His work has appeared in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Journal of the American Speech-Language Association, Journal of Phonetics, American Speech, WiRES Cognitive Science, Speech Prosody, and the Southern Journal of Linguistics, as well as collections about the South, such as Language Variation in the New South: Contemporary Perspectives on Change and Variation and Appalachian Englishes in the 21st Century.


Financial: Employed by and receives a salary from the University of Alabama 
Nonfinancial: No relevant nonfinancial relationships exist 

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