Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Real-time evidence for age grad(ing) in late adolescence

  • Suzanne Evans Wagner (a1)

This study provides real-time support for the hypothesis, previously inferred from apparent time studies, that stable sociolinguistic variables are age-graded. Stable variables have been shown to exhibit a curvilinear pattern with age in which adolescents use nonstandard variants at a higher rate than adults do. An analysis of the morphophonological variable (ing) was carried out using recordings and ethnographic observations of 13 young American women during and after their final years of high school. Offering a detailed look at the late adolescent life stage, the study also explores speakers’ motivations for retaining or retreating from nonstandard variants as they prepare to enter adulthood. These are examined at both the group and the individual level. The results indicate that the degree of retreat from nonstandard variants is socially differentiated, in line with apparent time findings. Future enrollment in a locally oriented college, and alignment to a local ethnic network (Irish or Italian)—not social class—were the predictors of retention in high school.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

John Baugh . (1996). Dimensions of a theory of econolinguistics. In G. Guy , C. Feagin , D. Schiffrin , & J. Baugh (eds.), Towards a social science of language: Papers in honor of William Labov. Volume 1: Variation and change in language and society. Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 397419.

Janel Benson , & Frank Furstenberg . (2006). Entry into Adulthood: Are Adult Role Transitions Meaningful Markers of Adult Identity? Advances in Life Course Research 11:199224.

Patricia Cukor-Avila . (2002). She say, she go, she be like: Verbs of quotation over time in African American Vernacular English. American Speech 77(1):331.

Doris R. Entwistle , & Nan Marie Astone . (1994). Some practical guidelines for measuring youth's race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Child Development 65(6):15211540.

John L. Fischer (1958). Social influence on the choice of a linguistic variant. Word 14:4756.

Norma Mendoza-Denton . (2008). Homegirls: Language and cultural practice among Latina youth gangs. Oxford: Blackwell.

Shana Poplack , & Nathalie Dion . (2009). Prescription vs praxis: The evolution of future temporal reference in French. Language 85:557587.

Jennifer Renn , & J. Michael Terry . (2009). Operationalizing style: Quantifying style shift in the speech of African American adolescents. American Speech 84(4):367390.

David Sankoff , & Réjean Lessard . (1975). Vocabulary richness: a sociolinguistic analysis. Science 190:689690.

Erik Schleef , Miriam Meyerhoff , & Lynn Clark . (2011). Teenagers’ acquisition of variation: A comparison of locally-born and migrant teens’ realisation of English (ing) in Edinburgh and London. English World-Wide 32(2):206236.

Janneke Van Hofwegen , & Walt Wolfram . (2010). Coming of age in African American English: A longitudinal study. Journal of Sociolinguistics 14(4):427455.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Language Variation and Change
  • ISSN: 0954-3945
  • EISSN: 1469-8021
  • URL: /core/journals/language-variation-and-change
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 9
Total number of PDF views: 76 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 263 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 28th June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.