"Sociolinguistic Competence: What Children Know about How Speech Indexes Regional Background "
Adults use information in the speech signal to identify properties of their interlocutors, such as where they are from. Children must acquire this knowledge about the relationships between speech variation and regional background as part of the language-acquisition process. The results of a series of studies exploring children’s and adults’ perception of regional dialect variation in American English demonstrate both acquisition of the fundamental skills underlying adult-like sociolinguistic competence by preschool-age, as well as protracted continued development of sociolinguistic categories into adolescence, when adult-like performance is achieved.
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