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Dialect Contact and Social Networks

Language Change in an Anglophone Community in Japan


Keiko Hirano

This book explores a dialect contact situation in a second language setting – native speakers of English coming to Japan from different parts of the world as English teachers. It focuses on an Anglophone community in which speakers are socially and geographically mobile and have loose-knit networks with speakers of different languages and dialects. This longitudinal sociolinguistic study aims to investigate the relatively short-term linguistic changes induced by frequent face-to-face interaction with speakers of different dialects and to illustrate the impact of social network effects. Statistical analyses reveal that the individual speakers’ interpersonal ties are important factors that influence the linguistic behaviour of the speakers in a dialect contact situation in an L2 setting.


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1 Introduction


This book explores the consequences of frequent interaction between native speakers of different varieties of English in a dialect contact situation in a coun- try where English is not the primary language but is used as a medium of inter- national communication. This study’s aims are twofold: to examine the linguis- tic change caused by dialect contact in a community where speakers do not have close-knit social networks but have short- to medium-term contact with speakers of different regional dialects of the same language; and to illustrate the impact of social network effects on the speakers with regard to linguistic variation and change. The mechanisms of dialect acquisition/accommodation in English dialect contact situations have been uncovered by a number of studies performed in the United States (Bigham 2008; Kirke 2005; Payne 1980; Roberts and Labov 1995), the United Kingdom (Chambers 1992; Kerswill 1994, 1996; Kerswill and Wil- liams 2000a, 2000b, 2002; Shockey 1984; Tagliamonte and Molfenter 2007; Wells 1973), Australia (Foreman 2000; Rogers 1981; Trudgill 1982, 1986), and New Zealand (Starks and Bayard 2002). A number of studies in dialect contact situations of languages other than English have also been performed in countries including Norway (Kerswill 1993; Mhlum 1992, 1996; Omdal 1994), Sweden (Ivars 1994), the Netherlands (Vousten and Bongaerts 1995,1 cited in Siegel 2010: 44; Rys and Bonte 2006), Germany (Auer, Barden and Grosskopf 1998, 2000; Auer and Hinskens 2005), Switzerland (Berthele 2002), Greece (Pa- pazachariou 1998), Jordan (Al-Wer 2002), Kuwait (Al-Dashti 1998), China (Stanford 2008a, 2008b)...

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