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Effects of language background on the development of sociolinguistic awareness: the perception of accent variation in monolingual and multilingual 5-7 year old children

Evans, BG; Tomé Lourido, G; (2019) Effects of language background on the development of sociolinguistic awareness: the perception of accent variation in monolingual and multilingual 5-7 year old children. Phonetica , 76 pp. 142-162. 10.1159/000493983. Green open access

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Abstract

As a result of complex international migration patterns, listeners in large urban centres such as London, UK, likely encounter large amounts of variation in spoken language. However, although dealing with variation is crucial to communication, relatively little is known about how the ability to do this develops. Still less is known about how this might be affected by language background. The current study investigates whether early experience with variation, specifically growing up bilingually in London, affects accent categorization. Sixty children (30 monolingual, 30 bilingual) aged 5-7 years old, were tested in their ability to comprehend and categorize talkers in 2 out of 3 accents; a home, unfamiliar regional and unfamiliar foreign-accented variety. All children demonstrated high, above chance performance in the comprehension task, but language background significantly affected children’s ability to categorize talkers. Bilinguals were able to categorize talkers in all accent conditions, but although all children were able to understand the talkers, monolingual children were only able to categorize talkers in the home-foreign accent condition. Overall, the results are consistent with an approach in which gradient representations of accent variation emerge alongside an understanding of how variation is used meaningfully within a child’s environment.

Type: Article
Title: Effects of language background on the development of sociolinguistic awareness: the perception of accent variation in monolingual and multilingual 5-7 year old children
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1159/000493983
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1159/000493983
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10056898
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