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LINGUIST List 22.766

Tue Feb 15 2011

Diss: Lang Acq/Phonology/Socioling: Nycz: 'Second Dialect ...'

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        1.     Jennifer Nycz , Second Dialect Acquisition: Implications for theories of phonological representation

Message 1: Second Dialect Acquisition: Implications for theories of phonological representation
Date: 15-Feb-2011
From: Jennifer Nycz <jennifer.nyczyork.ac.uk>
Subject: Second Dialect Acquisition: Implications for theories of phonological representation
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Institution: New York University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2010

Author: Jennifer Nycz

Dissertation Title: Second Dialect Acquisition: Implications for theories of phonological representation

Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition
                            Phonology
                            Sociolinguistics

Subject Language(s): English (eng)

Dissertation Director:
Gregory R. Guy

Dissertation Abstract:

How do speakers who move to a new dialect region acquire features of the
new dialect? Social factors surely affect this process; for example, the
degree to which a speaker wishes to align with the new community will
modulate how features associated with that community are acquired. However,
linguistic factors - the form of phonological representations, their
malleability, and the processes that manipulate them to yield surface forms
- must also constrain the types of variation and change available to the
individual speaker. This dissertation sets out the predictions made by
generative phonology and usage-based phonology regarding how such change
should occur, and uses second dialect acquisition data to test these
predictions.

The study draws its data from sociolinguistic interviews with mobile adults
who acquired their native dialect of English in Canada and later moved to
the New York City region. It focuses on the linguistic and social factors
affecting acquisition of two phonological variables which differ across
these two regions: the cot/caught distinction and height of (aw) in
Canadian Raising environments. A sociophonetic analysis of these variables
was undertaken to determine whether each speaker has acquired New York-like
realizations of these vowels, and whether this acquisition seemed to be
occurring on a lexically and phonetically gradual basis. The relationship
between these features across speakers was also examined.

Several findings emerge from this study. Most of the speakers in the sample
have acquired a cot/caught distinction after years spent in the New York
region, but maintain a raised (aw) nucleus, especially in salient lexical
items such as 'about'; however, both features show evidence of
phonetically and lexically gradual shift as predicted by usage- based
theory. A positive correlation was found between degree of cot/caught
distinction and degree of Canadian Raising: those speakers with the
greatest distance between 'cot' and 'caught' words are also those who
exhibit the most raised (aw) diphthongs. I argue that these findings
support a model in which phonological representations are both phonetically
rich and linked to social labels, and propose the addition of a new
parameter to the model which accounts for the correlation between the two
features.



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