Dialect Perception by Older Children

Ewa Jacewicz, Robert A. Fox


The acquisition of regional dialect variation is an inherent part of the language learning process that takes place in the specific environments in which the child participates. This study examined dialect perception by 9–12-year-olds who grew up in two very diverse dialect regions in the United States, Western North Carolina (NC) and Southeastern Wisconsin (WI). In a dialect identification task, each group of children responded to 120 talkers from the same dialects representing three generations, ranging in age from old adults to children. There was a robust discrepancy in the children’s dialect identification performance: WI children were able to identify talker dialect quite well (although still not as well as the adults) whereas NC children were at chance level. WI children were also more sensitive to cross-generational changes in both dialects as a function of diachronic sound change. It is concluded that both groups of children demonstrated their sociolinguistic awareness in very different ways, corresponding to relatively stable (WI) and changing (NC) socio-cultural environments in their respective speech communities.


 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-18

Cite as: Jacewicz, E., Fox, R.A. (2017) Dialect Perception by Older Children. Proc. Interspeech 2017, 354-358, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-18.


@inproceedings{Jacewicz2017,
  author={Ewa Jacewicz and Robert A. Fox},
  title={Dialect Perception by Older Children},
  year=2017,
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2017},
  pages={354--358},
  doi={10.21437/Interspeech.2017-18},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2017-18}
}