Sociolinguistic convergence and social interactions within a group of preschoolers: A longitudinal study

Abstract : Sociolinguistic studies have shown that linguistic usage is closely related to social relationships and interactions between individuals. This has been established in adults and adolescents but developmental studies involving children are lacking. This paper studies whether and how peers influence the acquisition of social dialects in young children by using direct observations and quantitative analyses of spontaneous peer interactions and relationships at kindergarten. The longitudinal follow-up of one group of French-speaking children 4 to 5 years of age shows that the individual scores of sociolinguistic variables converge after one year of frequent contact. Moreover, we find that children who interact more frequently adopt similar usage of sociolinguistic variables, whereas other factors have no influence (teacher’s speech, child’s awareness of standard sociolinguistics norms, reported interpersonal attraction). These results provide the first evidence that social interactions within the peer group do have an influence on children’s linguistic usage through daily interactions at an early age.
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Aurélie Nardy, Jean-Pierre Chevrot, Stéphanie Barbu. Sociolinguistic convergence and social interactions within a group of preschoolers: A longitudinal study. Language Variation and Change, Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2014, 26 (3), pp.273-301. ⟨10.1017/S0954394514000131⟩. ⟨hal-01241715⟩

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