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Subject:

Re: Age and Generation query

From:

"Patrick, Peter L" <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 13 Jan 2012 14:29:52 +0000

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Fascinating discussion. Rudy's points about splitter vs lumper strategies is an important one, and it is not just a matter of allegiance to method but of what the RQ is.

If you are studying eg the spread of a recent feature, eg one widely available thru mass media, then it may really be age you are interested in rather than generation (years of exposure to it, critical age if any, etc.).

If you are doing a historical study of a speech community, then even though you can gather a wide range of age data and reanalyse it later, you really do need an understanding of how the local history works to forge generational boundaries, as several people have pointed out. In that respect, one thing that should be obvious but is worth mentioning is that education nearly always interacts heavily with generation, because not only do school systems and the role of language within them change over time - sometimes radically, but also access to school and the typical age of school-leaving both generally increase over time, again sometimes sharply. And so occupation may interact too, as the amount and type of schooling required to access occupations changes along with it. 
	This was important in my Kingston, Jamaica study, where one crucial factor was access for Creole-speakers to standard varieties of English. Only the highest-status elderly speakers (in their 80s in 1990) had finished secondary education, one to become a head nurse and matron at a major hospital, the other to become headmaster of a school. All the young people (teens), even the lowest-status, completed or were likely to complete secondary school (a radical difference from earlier generations) - yet many could not compete in the depressed labour market with people a generation older who had less schooling but more work experience. Education differences by generation thus included whether they were taught under a system administered by the British, or after independence; the introduction of comprehensive schools; changes in teacher-training, including the point at which most teacher-trainers were themselves native Creole speakers, etc. Not all changes increased access to Standard English, either, so their effect was not linear.

	-p-


Peter L. Patrick                         E: [log in to unmask]
Dept. of Language & Linguistics          Ph: 1206 87.2088
Office: 4.328
W:    http://privatewww.essex.ac.uk/~patrickp



-----Original Message-----
From: Variationist List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of [log in to unmask]
Sent: 13 January 2012 09:48
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Age and Generation query

> Note that the groups were not only discrete, but unequal in range/size.
> But they matched association and friendship networks to a large extent, and provided a 
> more locally meaningful (valid?) account of age-related sociolinguistic variation.

In a similar manner - I split my PhD recordings of Bislama into "olfala" and "yangfala" for most purposes (after and before marriage bcs of changes in people's life options at that point), but for other purposes, I split them up into "kids", "papa/mama" (straight and classificatory parents) and "smol papa" - the notion of "smol papa/mama" (small father/mother) is what people in Malo island called classificatory 'mothers' and 'fathers' who are in a generational between the kids and their parents or closer to the kids than their parents. It made sense when looking at change within families in detail.

chrz, mm 


Miriam Meyerhoff
Professor of Linguistics, DALSL
University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019
Auckland 1142
New Zealand
+64 9 373 7999 x85236 

http://www.artsfaculty.auckland.ac.nz/staff/?UPI=mmey023

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