Just listen: Describing phonetic variation in the word just

Ben Gibb-Reid, Paul Foulkes, Vincent Hughes, Traci Walker

Poster presentation (paper to appear in proceedings)


 This study analyses the phonetic variation of the word just according to its pragmatic function and surrounding context. Analysis was made of the realisation of its four canonical segments (in Standard Southern British English or SSBE these are /d͡ʒ/, /ʌ/, /s/ and /t/) alongside duration, centre of gravity and formant measures. It was found that tokens of just with a discourse function are more likely to exhibit phonetic reduction than adverbial tokens. For instance, discourse just has shorter and centralised vowels and a higher rate of vowel and /t/ elision. This suggests that speakers signal different functions of just via segmental realisation. Analysing just in phonetic detail within its pragmatic and contextual environment describes how the word is shaped in its representation. Understanding the phonetic detail of words helps describe their patterns of social variation.