Linguistics and Language Variation: Mercedes Durham

2 May 2019, 1.00 PM - 2 May 2019, 2.00 PM

Dr Mercedes Durham, Cardiff University

G59, Arts Complex

Acquiring sociolinguistic variation: children, caregivers and community

Sociolinguistic research has shown that speakers are extremely sensitive to the variation patterns of their communities but until recently much of this research has focused on adults.

This talk will discuss what we know about how children acquire the highly complex patterns of variation widely attested in adult speech. To do this, it will examine the speech of toddlers (aged between two years, ten months and four years old) with their primary caregivers in a Scots speaking community.

Using examples of lexical, lexico-phonological, phonetic and morphosyntactic variables, it will consider the effect of the caregiver input on children’s output, the extent to which child-directed speech differs from community norms, the effect of children’s age, and whether variants are acquired sequentially or simultaneously.

This will allow me to elucidate some of the processes through which variation is acquired and show that different types of linguistic variables are not necessarily acquired in the same way.

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