How'd you get that accent? Acquiring a second dialect of the same language

Sali A. Tagliamonte, Sonja Molfenter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article presents a case study of second dialect acquisition by three children over six years as they shift from Canadian to British English. Informed by Chambers's principles of second dialect acquisition, the analysis focuses on a frequent and socially embedded linguistic feature, T-voicing (e.g., pudding versus putting). An extensive corpus and quantitative methods permit tracking the shift to British English as it is happening. Although all of the children eventually sound local, the acquisition process is complex. Frequency of British variants rises incrementally, lagging behind the acquisition of variable constraints, which are in turn ordered by type. Internal patterns are acquired early, while social correlates lag behind. Acceleration of second dialect variants occurs at well-defined sociocultural milestones, particularly entering the school system. Successful second dialect acquisition is a direct consequence of sustained access to and integration with the local speech community. (Second dialect acquisition, child language variation, T-voicing, mobility)*

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)649-675
Number of pages27
JournalLanguage in Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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