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The Acquisition of Heritage Languages

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Academic Paper


Title: Dialect variation and phonological knowledge: Phonological representations and metalinguistic awareness among beginning readers who speak nonmainstream American English
Author: Nicole Patton Terry
Institution: Georgia State University
Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics; Phonology; Sociolinguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: Children's spoken nonmainstream American English (NMAE) dialect use and their knowledge about phonological representations of word pronunciations were assessed in a sample of 105 children in kindergarten through second grade. Children were given expressive and receptive tasks with dialect-sensitive stimuli. Students who produced many NMAE features in speech nonetheless demonstrated considerable knowledge of “standard” English forms on the tasks, and their phonological representations were not deficient. In regression analyses, an inverse relationship between NMAE use and reading skill was observed, but mediated by phonological awareness. The findings are inconsistent with the view that print–speech mismatches interfere with young NMAE speakers’ reading acquisition, and instead suggest that dialect variation among beginning readers reflects metalinguistic differences that influence reading acquisition.

CUP AT LINGUIST

This article appears IN Applied Psycholinguistics Vol. 35, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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