Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …


An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Language Sciences

Editor-in-Chief: Gast, Volker

IMPACT FACTOR 2017: 0.644
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 0.878

CiteScore 2017: 0.79

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.418
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 1.386

See all formats and pricing
More options …
Volume 51, Issue 2


The social and linguistic in the acquisition of sociolinguistic norms: Caregivers, children, and variation

Jennifer Smith / Mercedes Durham / Hazel Richards
Published Online: 2013-03-15 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2013-0012


Despite the assumption in early studies that children are monostylistic until sometime around adolescence, a number of studies since then have demonstrated that adult-like patterns of variation may be acquired much earlier. How much earlier, however, is still subject to some debate. In this paper we contribute to this research through an analysis of a number of lexical, phonological and morphosyntactic variables across 29 caregiver/child pairs aged 2;10 to 4;2 in interaction with their primary caregivers. We first establish the patterns of use – both linguistic and social – in caregiver speech and then investigate whether these patterns of use are evident in the child speech. Our findings show that the acquisition of variation is highly variable dependent: some show age differentiation, others do not; some show acquisition of style shifting, others do not; some show correlations between caregiver input and child output, others do not. We interpret these findings in the light of community norms, social recognition and sociolinguistic value in the acquisition of variation at these early stages.

Keywords: acquisition; children; caregivers; variation; sociolinguistic

About the article

English Language, School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow, 12 University Gardens, Glasgow, G12 8QQ, United Kingdom

Published Online: 2013-03-15

Published in Print: 2013-03-14

Citation Information: Linguistics, Volume 51, Issue 2, Pages 285–324, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2013-0012.

Export Citation

©[2013] by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston.Get Permission

Citing Articles

Here you can find all Crossref-listed publications in which this article is cited. If you would like to receive automatic email messages as soon as this article is cited in other publications, simply activate the “Citation Alert” on the top of this page.

Mark Atkinson, Kenny Smith, and Simon Kirby
Cognitive Science, 2018
Anna Samara, Kenny Smith, Helen Brown, and Elizabeth Wonnacott
Cognitive Psychology, 2017, Volume 94, Page 85
Alison Henry
Linguistic Variation, 2016, Volume 16, Number 1, Page 131
Véronique Lacoste and Lisa Green
Linguistic Variation, 2016, Volume 16, Number 1, Page 1
Rania Habib
Linguistic Variation, 2016, Volume 16, Number 1, Page 34
Jennifer Nycz
Language and Linguistics Compass, 2015, Volume 9, Number 11, Page 469

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in