Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Mary Niepokuj

Committee Member 1

Felicia Roberts

Committee Member 2

Olga Dmitrieva


Word-final alveolar stop deletion is a form of variation that is found in many dialects of American English, and therefore, has been extensively studied and documented in the literature. Within the available literature, however, there is very little information to be found regarding if and how listeners use this variation to form initial judgments about a speaker’s character. The work described in this thesis is an attempt to begin bridging this literary gap. This thesis studies how both word-final alveolar stop deletion and speaker gender, as well as the interactions between these two factors, affect a listener’s initial opinions about a speaker. To achieve the goals of this thesis, a matched guise experiment was designed and run, the results from which are promising. Word-final alveolar stop deletion shows significant results for several characteristics, especially those most closely aligned with a person’s competency. Gender shows significant results for a number of traits as well, particularly those associated with a person’s likability. There are also several characteristics that have significant results for an interaction between these two factors. This thesis indicates that word-final alveolar stop deletion, though overlooked in perceptual work thus far, is a sociolinguistic variable that does carry social meaning for its listeners. Though these results are just an initial step towards understanding the social meaning of this variable, they promise an interesting path for future research.