Why does the shtyle spread? Street prestige boosts the diffusion of urban vernacular features

Stef Grondelaers, Stefania Marzo

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

In this article, we investigate social meaning as a determinant of linguistic
diffusion by confronting laboratory and corpus data of Citétaal, a multiethnolect
that has spread across Flanders. In a speaker evaluation experiment,
we found that Citétaal was upgraded on ‘streetwise dynamism’, even by
respondents unfamiliar with its migrant origin. From this, we conclude that
it is Citétaal’s third-order indexicality, pruned of ethnic associations, which
carries the diffusion. To determine the relative importance of streetwise
cool vis-à-vis other predictors, we studied the diffusion across Twitter of
the principal Citétaal shibboleth (=s= palatalisation). As a production proxy
for streetwise cool, we included expressive compensation strategies such as
lengthening (verrry), which turned out to be among the main predictors of
the Citétaal form. We argue that social meaning is a major change
determinant, and that Twitter is the optimum source to track both a diffusion
and the factors, including social meaning, which drive it. (Rapid linguistic
diffusion, social meaning, streetwise prestige, speaker evaluation
experiment, corpus linguistics, Twitter)*
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-320
Number of pages25
JournalLanguage in Society
Volume52
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2023

Keywords

  • Rapid linguistic diffusion, social meaning, streetwise prestige, speaker evaluation experiment, corpus linguistics, Twitter

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