Variation Within Dialects: A Case of Cajun/Creole Influence Within Child SAAE and SWE Purpose This study examined whether child speakers of Southern African American English (SAAE) and Southern White English (SWE) who were also perceived by some listeners to present a Cajun/Creole English (CE) influence within their dialects produced elevated rates of 6 phonological and 5 morphological patterns of vernacular relative to other ... Research Article
Research Article  |   February 01, 2006
Variation Within Dialects: A Case of Cajun/Creole Influence Within Child SAAE and SWE
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Janna B. Oetting
    Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
  • April Wimberly Garrity
    Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
  • Contact author: Janna B. Oetting, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, 64 Hatcher Hall, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803. Email: cdjanna@lsu.edu
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   February 01, 2006
Variation Within Dialects: A Case of Cajun/Creole Influence Within Child SAAE and SWE
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2006, Vol. 49, 16-26. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2006/002)
History: Received December 4, 2003 , Revised November 1, 2004 , Accepted May 6, 2005
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2006, Vol. 49, 16-26. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2006/002)
History: Received December 4, 2003; Revised November 1, 2004; Accepted May 6, 2005
Web of Science® Times Cited: 19

Purpose This study examined whether child speakers of Southern African American English (SAAE) and Southern White English (SWE) who were also perceived by some listeners to present a Cajun/Creole English (CE) influence within their dialects produced elevated rates of 6 phonological and 5 morphological patterns of vernacular relative to other SAAE- and SWE-speaking children.

Method A group comparison design was followed. The data were listener judgments, 1-min audiotaped excerpts of conversational speech, and transcribed language samples from 93 children (31 classified as specifically language impaired while the others were classified as either aged-matched or language-matched controls; 13 classified as SWE with CE, 40 classified as SWE only, 18 classified as SAAE with CE, and 22 classified as SAAE only).

Results Results indicated that children with a CE influence produced elevated rates of vernacular phonology relative to the others, with 2 patterns (nonaspirated stops and glide reduction) showing statistically significant group differences. In contrast, the children’s use of vernacular morphology was unrelated to their CE status, but was instead related to their primary dialect (SWE vs. SAAE) and language ability classification (impaired vs. normal).

Conclusions The findings highlight the role of phonology in listeners' perceptions of dialect variation within 2 nonmainstream dialects (SWE and SAAE). The findings also demonstrate the ways phonological and morphological forms of vernacular can be independently influenced by different types of child variables.

Acknowledgments
This study was made possible by a grant from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (RO3 DC03609) awarded to the first author and by a departmental assistantship and graduate school enhancement from the Life Course and Aging Center at Louisiana State University awarded to the second author. The authors would like to thank Sylvie Dubois for her comments; Megan Melacon, Beth Stapleton, and Sarah Ross for their listener judgments; David Herrell for his coding of CE; and Vicky Roy for assistance with the CE literature review.
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