Research on second dialect acquisition

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Sat Dec 7 15:40:59 UTC 2002

Look at Trydgill's Dialects in Contact (which summarizes much of his
and Jack Chambers' work on this topic, as well as Payne's in King of
Prussia, PA). More recently, an MSU team has completed an NSF study
of acquisition of the Northern Cities Shift variety by African
Americans, rural Michiganders, and Appalachian immigrants. There are
several publications (and dissertations) for the interested.


Although I do quite a bit of work in the area of  regional dialect and even
pronunciation teaching (when forced), I have never looked hard for research
evidence, descriptive or experimental, on the difficulty or ease of
different/second dialect  acquisition. Like Beverly Flanigan, I have
assumed it was difficult and rare, but I have not come across research that
looks specifically at that phenomenon. There are no references to it in
Rosina Lippi-Green's _English with an Accent_, which is one place I would
expect to find some references. Could someone help me by pointing me to
specific studies on that specific question?

I am also doing some work on regulation and judgment of language in the
context of employment. A basic legal issue there is whether and to what
degree language is a "mutable characteristic." I am not aware of compelling
evidence that accent, for one, is not mutable, though I would certainly
like to think that is generally the case.

So, again, any suggestions would be helpful. (I'll of course look on my own

Karl Krahnke
Colorado State University

Dennis R. Preston
Professor of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics and Languages
740 Wells Hall A
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1027 USA
Office - (517) 353-0740
Fax - (517) 432-2736

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