Fitting in: Migrants' Acquisition of Sociolinguistic Variation in Edinburgh English
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This paper investigates the process by which migrant L2 users acquire the norms of sociolinguistic variation present in their host community. It contributes to recent work on Polish migrants who came to the UK following their country's 2004 accession to the EU, focusing on speakers living in Edinburgh. Based on the findings of Schleef, Meyerhoff & Clark (2011), the present study explores the notion that certain types of structured variation are more difficult to acquire than others. To achieve this, a comparative variationist approach is adopted. Multivariate analyses of variation in (t) and (ing) from a corpus of sociolinguistic interviews are presented, comparing two groups of speakers at different stages of acquisition. The results suggest that different constraints on variation are acquired at different points in the acquisition process. While linguistic constraints appear to be acquired broadly in order of complexity, the emergence of social constraints varies from variable to variable. It is argued that these differences may be related to the way in which migrants engage in metalinguistic commentary and form linguistic stereotypes of the speakers they encounter in the host community.