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Acquiring Basque ergativity and its social meaning: implications for variationist sociolinguistics

Calendar Tuesday, 8 February 2022
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Following variationist approaches to language acquisition, this study examines the acquisition of the Basque ergative case marker -k among new speakers of Basque. Production data indicate that new speakers despite being more variable, they show consistent mastery of core internal constraints and gradual structuring based on lexical frequency effects. New speakers show no differences in the social meanings attached to ergativity, contra traditional speakers who associate -k omission with ‘new speakers’ and ‘inauthenticity’. This study shows that structured variation is acquired in a piecemeal fashion and that new speakers are implicated in transgressing traditional socio-indexical relations of linguistic variation.

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