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Social identity and sound change : the case of Wo in Shanghainese

journal contribution
posted on 2012-07-30, 00:00 authored by Guo-Qiang Liu
Research has shown that language change is driven on one hand by forces internal to language itself such as grammar-internal systematic pressure, and on the other hand by social motives such as social identity. Language contact presents new features, but why is it that some of them are incorporated as variation and evolving into language change, while others are not? This paper reports a study on a sound change in Shanghainese, a dialect of the Chinese language. Data were collected in natural contexts of conversation followed by a brief interview with informants to gain identity related information about them. It has found that previously negative perception of status attached to a new sound induced by language/dialect contact changed into a positive perception, and people started to identify positively with this new sound. Further, there were differences in various different age and gender groups in taking up the new sound. As a result, this sound has evolved from a nonnative alternative to a systematic variation and it is being established as a sound change. This study has thus further confirmed that social identity plays a pivotal role in driving language features into language variation and language change.

History

Journal

Australian review of applied linguistics

Volume

35

Issue

2

Pagination

203 - 214

Publisher

Applied Linguistics Association of Australia

Location

Melbourne, Vic.

ISSN

0155-0640

eISSN

1833-7139

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal; C Journal article

Copyright notice

2012, Applied Linguistics Association of Australia

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