Essay on Second Dialect Acquisition

Essay on Second Dialect Acquisition

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In the field of sociolinguistics, much research has gone into exploring first language acquisition and how children manage to acquire all the complexities of a language relatively quickly. This research mainly focuses on the order of the acquisition of different structural properties of a language and the process by which they acquire these properties. The study of the acquisition of various dialects by children is a less frequently explored area. Generally, the dialect that children acquire reflects the family and environment they grow up in. However, if they encounter different dialects or are placed in a new environment with a dissimilar dialect, the result is less predictable.
For this reason, in the article How’d you get that accent?: Acquiring a second dialect of the same language, Tagliamonte and Molfenter examine the dialects of children who have been transplanted to a new country with a different dialect of English. They look at how different factors, such as age, family and school, affect the accent and whether the children eventually successfully acquire the local dialect. Specifically, they examine the speech of three children,over the period of six years, who move from Canada to Britain. All the children are under the age of five at the time of relocation, and the study focuses on t-voicing in British English and the variation of the glottal stop with the voiceless alveolar stop. In North American English, the voiceless alveolar stop becomes voiceless when it follows a vowel or /r/ and precedes an unstressed syllable. In the shift from Canadian English to British English, the children had to “change these voiced stops to voiceless stops” (Trudgill 1986: 22). The study focused on the progression and success of the ...


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...a collected is not the same for each child. As a result, the data may not appropriately reflect their abilities. They also did not take into account the effect of the interviewer on the children. This also has the ability to distort the data and the children’s competence.
All in all, Tagliomonte and Molfenter’s research provides an important case study on the process of second dialect acquisition. The study outlines important factors, such as age, and interaction with the community, that influence the success of second dialect acquisition and how this acquisition comes about. Additionally, it proves that second dialect acquisition is a steady process over a long period of time, and native like competence may never be fully achieved. However, in order to more fully understand the process of second dialect acquisition, more case studies and research are required.

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