Linguistic Constraints on Children's Overt Marking of BE by Dialect and Age PurposeOvert marking of BE in nonmainstream adult dialects of English is influenced by a number of linguistic constraints, including the structure's person, number, tense, contractibility, and grammatical function. In the current study, the authors examined the effects of these constraints on overt marking of BE in children as a function ... Article
Article  |   June 01, 2013
Linguistic Constraints on Children's Overt Marking of BE by Dialect and Age
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Joseph Roy
    University of Ottawa, Canada
  • Janna B. Oetting
    Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
  • Christy Wynn Moland
    Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
  • Correspondence to Joseph Roy: jroy042@uottawa.ca
  • Editor: Jody Kreiman
    Editor: Jody Kreiman×
  • Associate Editor: Jessica Barlow
    Associate Editor: Jessica Barlow×
Article Information
Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language
Article   |   June 01, 2013
Linguistic Constraints on Children's Overt Marking of BE by Dialect and Age
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2013, Vol. 56, 933-944. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/12-0099)
History: Received March 3, 2012 , Revised July 5, 2012 , Accepted September 4, 2012
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2013, Vol. 56, 933-944. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/12-0099)
History: Received March 3, 2012; Revised July 5, 2012; Accepted September 4, 2012
Web of Science® Times Cited: 5

PurposeOvert marking of BE in nonmainstream adult dialects of English is influenced by a number of linguistic constraints, including the structure's person, number, tense, contractibility, and grammatical function. In the current study, the authors examined the effects of these constraints on overt marking of BE in children as a function of their nonmainstream English dialect and age.

MethodThe data were language samples from 62 children, ages 4–6 years; 24 children spoke African American English (AAE), and 38 spoke Southern White English (SWE). Analyses included analysis of variance and logistic regression.

ResultsRates of overt marking varied by the children's dialect but not their age. Although the person, number, tense, and grammatical function of BE influenced the children's rates of marking, the nature and magnitude of the influence differed by the children's dialect. For AAE-speaking children, contractibility also influenced their marking of BE.

ConclusionsConsistent with the adult literature, the current study showed that AAE- and SWE-speaking children marked BE in ways that differed from each other and from what has been documented for child speakers of Mainstream American English. These findings show stability in the use of BE in AAE and SWE that spans different generations and different dialect communities.

Acknowledgments
This study was made possible by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grants RO3 DC03609 (Janna Oetting, P.I.) and RO1 DC009811 (Janna Oetting, Michael Hegarty, and Janet McDonald, co-P.I.s). We thank the children, parents, and teachers who made data collection possible; Tina Villa for completing an analysis of the children's questions; and Nicté Fuller Medina, Kyomi Gregory, Allison Lealess, Ryan Lee, Jessica Richardson, Andrew Riviére, Christy Seidel, and Tina Villa for providing valuable feedback on an earlier draft of this article.
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