The effect of varying intercepts on findings in sociophonetic data
Some observations from Caleño Spanish
Keywords:mixed-effects models, varying intercepts, sociophonetics, Spanish /s/, Colombian Spanish
Mixed-effects models have been advocated to account for the hierarchical nature of most data used in variationist studies. This study uses a corpus of eight speakers of Spanish spoken in Cali, Colombia to test the effect of two varying intercepts, one for speaker and one for word, on the fixed effects obtained for three dependent variables relevant for the study of variable s-realization. Although the inclusion of varying intercepts generally does not affect the sign of the fixed effects, results show that significance of a number of fixed effects is greatly affected by the varying intercepts, especially the word varying intercept, on which many of the fixed effects depend. The speaker varying intercept, on the other hand, only affected the significance of fixed effects whose p-value was already near the threshold of 0.05.
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