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Speaking American: A History of English in the United States

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Language, Literacy, and Technology

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Academic Paper


Title: How'd you get that accent?: Acquiring a second dialect of the same language
Author: Sali A Tagliamonte
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of Toronto
Author: Sonja Molfenter
Institution: University of Toronto
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Sociolinguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: This article presents a case study of second dialect acquisition by three children over six years as they shift from Canadian to British English. Informed by Chambers's principles of second dialect acquisition, the analysis focuses on a frequent and socially embedded linguistic feature, T-voicing (e.g., puing versus puing). An extensive corpus and quantitative methods permit tracking the shift to British English as it is happening. Although all of the children eventually sound local, the acquisition process is complex. Frequency of British variants rises incrementally, lagging behind the acquisition of variable constraints, which are in turn ordered by type. Internal patterns are acquired early, while social correlates lag behind. Acceleration of second dialect variants occurs at well-defined sociocultural milestones, particularly entering the school system. Successful second dialect acquisition is a direct consequence of sustained access to and integration with the local speech community.

CUP AT LINGUIST

This article appears IN Language in Society Vol. 36, Issue 5, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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