Sociolinguistics and immigration: linguistic variation among adolescents in London and Edinburgh

Meyerhoff, Miriam and Schleef, Erik (2015). Sociolinguistics and immigration: linguistic variation among adolescents in London and Edinburgh. [Data Collection]. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Archive. 10.5255/UKDA-SN-851797

This project investigates the phenomenon of integration among migrant pupils and aims to find out what happens to immigrants when they come to a new country. One way to examine this is by using sociolinguistic methods to study the language variety migrants acquire once they have settled in a country. To do this, the project investigates the acquisition and sociolinguistic variation of local and non-local non-standard linguistic features among pupils of Polish descent in schools in London and Edinburgh. The large group of newcomers from Poland represents a unique chance to conduct a comparative study in two locales with different local dialects. It will show how immersion in differing contexts of language variation influences migrants' speech. Sociolinguistic methods are used to document how migrant pupils speak, and compare them to a local control group of age-matched teenagers. This reveals where the linguistic features Polish pupils use come from. By studying pupils' language attitudes and the language norms they're aware of, researchers can find out about the motivations behind different patterns of language use. Attitudes may influence what linguistic features pupils use, and how they indicate through language who they are becoming.

Data description (abstract)

The purpose of this research was to find out what Polish immigrants do with the variation that exists in the English language around them. Do they attach social meanings to it? Do they pick it up and copy it? Or do they do something else? To find out, we collected and analysed language data from British-born and Polish-born adolescents living in Edinburgh and London. Polish immigrants included in the study use non-standard features of English but the patterns associated with their use are not the same as those found among UK-born adolescents. That is, Polish adolescents are not copying native speakers wholesale; they are re-interpreting variation in English. This finding has also recently been reported in work on dialect contact and long-term contact. Our project adds weight to the importance of this principle.

Data creators:
Creator NameEmailAffiliationORCID (as URL)
Meyerhoff, of AucklandUnspecified
Schleef, of ManchesterUnspecified
NameEmailAffiliationORCID (as URL)
Clark, LynnUnspecifiedUniversity of CantenburyUnspecified
Daleszynska, AgataUnspecifiedEdge Hill UniversityUnspecified
Soden, SatoriUnspecifiedUniversity of SurreyUnspecified
Strycharz-Banas,, AnnaUnspecifiedThe Meertens InstituteUnspecified
Sponsors: ESRC
Grant reference: RES-000-22-3244
Topic classification: Social stratification and groupings
Society and culture
Keywords: immigration, sociolinguistics, language variations, teenagers
Project title: Sociolinguistics and immigration: linguistic variation among adolescents in London and Edinburgh
Grant holders: Miriam Meyerhoff, Erik Schleef
Project dates:
1 February 200931 May 2010
Date published: 08 Apr 2015 18:19
Last modified: 08 Apr 2015 18:29

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