You may have found this task difficult due to the short duration pf the recordings and also due to the fact that the speakers were recorded in different decades. For example, someone who was recorded when young in the 1970s may still sound middle-aged or older to you listening today. In addition, had the recordings been longer, the speaker’s topic of conversation may have helped you decide. Older people may have talked more about memories, middle aged people about work and younger people about school. Instead, the short nature of the recordings means that all you could use to guess the age was the speaker’s voice. You may have helped by the fact that some of the speakers sounded like people you know of varying ages. Although you may not have been consciously aware of it, you may have also based your decisions on aspects of pronunciation which we know have changed over time. Someone who was elderly in the 1970s will pronounce some sounds differently to those who were young in the 1970s, and even more so to those who were young in the 2000s. Looking at change between points in time in this way is known as looking at real-time change. Furthermore we also believe that the pronunciation of some sounds is different in younger and older people recorded in the same decade. Looking at change between age groups in this way, and therefore using age as a substitute for the passage of time, is known as looking at apparent-time change. Therefore, in this quiz, you were listing to pronunciations which may have differed across both real-time and apparent-time, as you were listing to people of various ages across four decades of recordings.
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