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Linguistic Diversity and Social Justice

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Language Evolution: The Windows Approach

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Language Evolution: The Windows Approach addresses the question: "How can we unravel the evolution of language, given that there is no direct evidence about it?"


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Academic Paper


Title: Variation in the Expression of Possession by Latino Children
Author: Tonya E. Wolford
Institution: University of Pennsylvania
Linguistic Field: Sociolinguistics; Syntax
Subject Language: English
Abstract: As part of a national effort to improve reading levels, spontaneous speech samples were collected from 630 Latino, African American, and white children in grades 2 through 4 in Georgia, California, and Pennsylvania. In this study, data was used from 126 Latinos, and a comparison group of 28 African American and 28 white children to study their use of 3rd person possessive pronouns, periphrastic of possessives, and attributive -s possessives. It was found that Latino children confused his for her and her for his; used more periphrastic of constructions; and omitted the attributive -s marker in noun + -s + noun constructions. Multivariate analyses revealed that beyond Spanish influence, speaker sex, language origin, and grade also affected the expression of possession. Most striking are the differences according to speaker sex, and between Mexican and Puerto Rico origin children, which are considered in light of the closer relationship between Puerto Ricans and African Americans in Philadelphia.

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This article appears IN Language Variation and Change Vol. 18, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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