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Conference Papers Year : 2017

Language acquisition and sociolinguistic variation: the social, the cognitive, and the network


Bringing cognitive and social approaches under the same focus is becoming a desirable goal should one want to gain a better understanding of the process of language acquisition (Hulstijn et al., 2014, Chevrot & Nardy, to appear). Three ways for combining the social and the cognitive can be envisaged: the social approach to cognition, the cognitive approach to the social, the collective cognition approach (Kaufmann & Clément, 2011). This third way emphasizes the interaction between the individual and the collective levels (Dupuy, 2004): individuals with social and cognitive characteristics interact with one another under social and cognitive constraints. Each individual’s characteristics may evolve due to the interactions with others and the resulting changes may in turn modify the constraints (Hruschka et al., 2009). This framework leads to a better integration of cognitive, social and linguistic issues at the collective and individual levels. The aim of our contribution is to defend that the concept of social network is a tool for implementing this framework. Indeed, social network describes the social links (the connections) while maintaining linguistic and cognitive information about the units (the nodes). Moreover, it explores the explanatory power of the bidirectional interaction between the individual level and the collective level. We will illustrate this framework by discussing research conducted in different language situations (multilingual/multidialectal) where the complex interaction between the linguistic, the social and the cognitive levels is particularly relevant in the process of acquisition of variation: in preschoolers (Nardy, Chevrot & Barbu, 2014), in preteens and adolescents (Barbu, Martin, & Chevrot, 2014; Ghimenton & Volpin 2014), within the family (Martin, Chevrot & Barbu, 2010; Ghimenton, 2015) and among Chinese and American students during a study abroad stay in France (Gautier & Chevrot, 2015). References Barbu, S., Martin, N. & Chevrot, J.-P. (2014). The maintenance of regional dialects: a matter of gender? Boys, but not girls, use local varieties in relation to their friends’ nativeness and local identity. Frontiers in Psychology. 31 October 2014. Chevrot, J.-P. & Nardy, A. (to appear). Sociolinguistique et sciences cognitives : promesses d’une rencontre inattendue. In Côté, M.-H., Durand, J., Lyche, C., Peuvergne, J. (eds). Dynamiques linguistiques : variation, changement et cognition, Presses universitaires de Paris Ouest. Dupuy, J.-P. (2004). Vers l’unité des sciences sociales autour de l’individualisme méthodologique complexe. Revue du MAUSS, 24(2), 310-328. Gautier, R. & Chevrot, J.-P. (2015). Social networks and acquisition of sociolinguisitc variation in a study abroad context : a preliminary study, In Mitchell, Rosamond, Tracy-Ventura, Nicole & McManus, Kevin (Eds), Social interaction, identity and language learning during residence abroad, Eurosla Monographs series, 4, 169-184. Ghimenton. A. (2015, first published online on November 18, 2013). Reading between the code choices: Discrepancies between expressions of language attitudes and usage in a contact situation. International Journal of Bilingualism.19: 115-136. Ghimenton, A. & Volpin, L. (2014). Choix stylistiques plurilingues, catégorisation et construction de sens: étude exploratoire dans une école professionnelle de Vénétie (Italie). Lidil, 50, 63-79. Hruschka, D. J., Christiansen, M. H., Blythe, R. A., Croft, W., Heggarty, P., Mufwene, S. S., Pierrehumbert, Janet B., Poplack, S. (2009). Building social cognitive models of language change. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13(11), 464–469. Hulstijn, J. H., Young, R. F., Ortega, L., Bigelow, M., DeKeyser, R., Ellis, N. C., Lantolf, J. P., Mackey, A., Talmy, S. (2014). Bridging the Gap. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 36(03), 361–421. Kaufmann, L., & Clément, F. (2011). L’esprit des sociétés. Bilan et perspectives en sociologie cognitive. In L. Kaufmann & F. Clément, La sociologie cognitive, Ophrys (pp. 7–40). Martin, N., Chevrot, J.-P., & Barbu, S. (2010). Stylistic variations in the social network of a 10-year-old child: Pragmatic adjustments or automatic alignment? Journal of Sociolinguistics, 14(5), 678–692. Nardy, A., Chevrot, J.-P., & Barbu, S. (2014). Sociolinguistic convergence and social interactions within a group of preschoolers: A longitudinal study. Language Variation and Change, 26(03), 273–301.
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hal-01456304 , version 1 (04-02-2017)


  • HAL Id : hal-01456304 , version 1


Jean-Pierre Chevrot, Aurélie Nardy, Anna Ghimenton, Eric Fleury, Márton Karsai. Language acquisition and sociolinguistic variation: the social, the cognitive, and the network. Variation in Language Acquisition (ViLA3), University of Salzburg, Feb 2017, Salzburg, Germany. ⟨hal-01456304⟩
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