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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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3 Theoretical Background and Previous Research


3.1 Introduction This chapter presents theoretical background and previous research closely re- lated to the themes of this book: linguistic change in a dialect contact situation and the social network effects on it. This study intends to examine linguistic changes, namely modification in pronunciation, observed among individual na- tive speakers of English (NSsE) as a result of frequent face-to-face interaction between NSsE with different dialects and varieties in the Anglophone commu- nity of Japan and between those NSsE and mostly Japanese non-native speakers of English (non-NSsE). The linguistic changes in the speakers of the present study, which are considered to be a consequence of frequently accommodating their linguistic features to the people with whom they have close contact, will be illustrated in relation to the individual speakers’ social networks. The current study believes that one of the important factors that determine the linguistic be- haviour of the speaker is the social network to which the speaker belongs. The linguistic data will, therefore, be analysed in relation to the network structure of the individual NSsE. In this chapter, first, theoretical issues and studies in the field of dialect con- tact will be reviewed (3.2), second, studies in contact with non-NSsE will be discussed (3.3), and third, studies related to social networks will be considered (3.4). A brief summary will follow at the end of this chapter (3.5). 3.2 Dialect Contact Today, many people have the opportunity to travel freely throughout the world to work in different countries and live in different...

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