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Thursday, October 10 • 2:30pm - 2:55pm
Bayley & Preston: Variation in second and heritage languages: Implications for sociolinguistic theory

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Variation in second and heritage languages: Implications for sociolinguistic theory

​Variationist studies of second and heritage languages have developed considerably in recent years. We now know that many of the constraints that govern variation in speakers’ dominant language are also present in non-dominant languages. Studies of variation in a range of second and heritage languages demonstrate that “orderly heterogeneity” is characteristic of all languages. Work on non-dominant languages also offers a way to examine language change in real time because the variants that are undergoing change in earlier stages of acquisition are unlikely to have acquired social meaning that can interfere with natural language change. Finally, given the well-documented three generational pattern of shift from immigrant languages to monolingualism in the dominant language of a new country studies of change in heritage languages can help us better understand what aspects of language are resistant to change and what aspects are subject to change under the influence of a dominant language.

Session abstract: Variation in Second and Heritage Language Speech: Cross-linguistic Perspectives

This session brings together scholars working on the acquisition of sociolinguistic variation in a variety of non-dominant languages. The first paper outlines how such studies can contribute to sociolinguistic theory. The next papers examine the influence of Indonesian on children’s Javanese and the influence of English and communication networks on Diné Bizaad (Navajo). Other studies focus on the acquisition of sociolinguistic competence by U.S. students in France and the acquisition of the constraints on object deletion in Mandarin. The final study examines the (non)-acquisition of a socially stigmatized variant by Spanish L1 speakers in Catalonia. Taken together, the papers in this session illustrate the contributions to our understanding of the effects of language contact on second and heritage languages and to identifying the types of linguistic and social factors that are common across contexts or pairs of languages and those that are specific to particular languages or social contexts.


Robert Bayley

University of California Davis

Dennis Preston

Oklahoma State University

Thursday October 10, 2019 2:30pm - 2:55pm PDT
EMU Gumwood