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Scalar effects of social networks on language variation

  • Devyani Sharma (a1)

Abstract

The role of social networks in language variation has been studied using a wide range of metrics. This study critically examines the effect of different dimensions of networks on different aspects of language variation. Three dimensions of personal network (ethnicity, nationality, diversity) are evaluated in relation to three levels of language structure (phonetic form, accent range, language choice) over three generations of British Asians. The results indicate a scaling of network influences. The two metrics relating to qualities of an individual's ties are more historically and culturally specific, whereas the network metric that relates to the structure of an individual's social world appears to exert a more general effect on accent repertoires across generations. This two-tier typology—network qualities (more culturally contingent) and network structures (more general)—facilitates an integrated understanding of previous studies and a more structured methodology for studying the effect of social networks on language.

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Language Variation and Change
  • ISSN: 0954-3945
  • EISSN: 1469-8021
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