Exploring social-indexical variation: a long past but a short history

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This article has three main aims. First, I review what is known about encoding social-indexical information in phonetics/phonology, suggesting that it is more complex and more extensive than typically acknowledged in laboratory phonology. Secondly, I explore evidence for the development of indexical knowledge in phonological acquisition, considering indexical learning from the perspective of exemplar theory. One of the attractions of exemplar theory is its capacity to predict learning of both linguistic and social structures through the same mechanism. The tenets of exemplar theory also make a number of predictions about indexical learning: some types of indexical properties are likely to be transmitted more readily than others, as a function of the frequency and phonetic transparency with which they are manifested. The predictions appear to be borne out relatively well by the available data. I end by raising a number of implications and challenges, in particular, but not exclusively, for exemplar theory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-39
JournalLaboratory Phonology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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