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The Acquisition of Community Speech Norms by Asian Immigrants Learning English as a Second Language: a preliminary study

1991-03, Adamson, H. D. (Hugh Douglas), Regan, Vera

We investigate Vietnamese and Cambodian immigrants' acquisition of the variable (ing), which occurs in progressive tenses, participles, noun phrases, etc., and which can be pronounced [iŋ] or [In]. A VARBRUL 2 program analysis of native speaker speech shows that the production of (ing) is constrained by phonological, grammatical, stylistic, and social factors. An analysis of the nonnative speakers' acquisition of these norms shows that [In] is more frequent before anterior segments (reflecting ease of articulation), and that males use [In] more frequently than females, especially in monitored speech (perhaps reflecting their desire to accommodate to a male native speaker norm rather than to an overall native speaker norm). The analysis also shows evidence of grammatical constraints which are different from those in the native speakers' speech. This difference may reflect the fact that it is easier to acquire the [In] variant in “frozen forms,” such as prepositions, than in productive rules.