Edited by Gunther De Vogelaer and Matthias Katerbow
[Studies in Language Variation 20] 2017
► pp. 213–233
Chapter 8. Socializing language choices
When variation in the language environment supports acquisition
A child’s family network helps scaffold his/her language acquisition, transmitting style and variation through language choice and usage. By way of this knowledge, the child becomes a competent speaker in his/her community. We conducted a case study in Veneto (Italy), where children grow up in contact with both the regional language, Veneto, and Italian, the official national language. Adopting a (psycho)sociolinguistic approach to our corpora, we observed the language production of a young boy, Francesco (25 months) as he participated in multiparty interactions with his nuclear (his parents) and extended family members (his grandparents and one aunt). All utterances were transcribed and assigned to a category: Veneto, Italian, or mixed. We quantitatively and qualitatively analyzed the child’s utterances and those produced by his interlocutors. The overall results show that (1) adults prefer using Italian in their child-addressed speech, (2) Francesco uses mainly Italian, and (3) lexical choices made during multiparty interactions showed that Francesco’s Veneto production was greater when he was interacting with speakers who use more Veneto. The qualitative analyses focus on the adults’ different recasts of vocalic elements produced by Francesco in the determiner slot. We discuss how variation might guide the process of language socialization.