Can we watch regional dialects developing in colonial English?
The case of New Zealand
The regional homogeneity of New Zealand English is frequently commented on. Similar observations on varieties such as Australian English were simply precursors to the discovery of regional dialects. In this paper a report is given of a survey of New Zealand primary school children, which showed that in the vocabulary they use in the playground there is considerable regional variation. This might be taken as evidence of the inception of regional variation in New Zealand. However, it is argued that the birth of regional dialects cannot be perceived by the analyst; rather the analyst can observe a stronger or weaker regional distribution of variants. It is also pointed out that the spread of innovations does not always happen in the same way in modern societies as has been reported in traditional dialectological studies.
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