Sociolinguistic perception of lexical and syntactic variation among Persian-English bilinguals
Keywords:sociolinguistic perception, morphosyntax, lexical variation, bilingualism, Persian language
This study examines the relationship between sociolinguistic perception and Persian language variation. Prior work has shown that preconceived notions about how speakers use language and what kind of language they produce can affect listeners’ perceptions (D’Onofrio 2016; Hansen Edwards et al. 2019; Mack & Munson 2012; Niedzielski 1999). However, many questions remain unanswered regarding how social meaning is applied in contact situations, especially among self-identified native and heritage speakers. Within Persian language studies, some work has observed linguistic practices among both native and non-native speakers, finding that both vary significantly in their production patterns of certain syntactic and lexical features (Megerdoomian 2020). I ask whether Persian-English bilinguals associate non-standard forms with certain social personae categorized by linguistic background. Sixteen bilingual Persian-English speakers participated in an online survey with the task of matching standard and non-standard written productions to a pre-defined linguistic persona. Results so far suggest that Persian-English bilinguals actively construct associations between language use and speaker personae, with specific grammatical categories appearing more likely to index a non-native speaking identity. This brings up further questions about how bilinguals navigate sociolinguistic ideologies tied to speaker identity, and how heritage speakers and learners approach these notions. This study adds to the growing literature on bilingualism and sociolinguistic perception, with implications for critical discussions surrounding the various ideologies that place communities of multilingual speakers into strict social categories.
Published by the LSA with permission of the author(s) under a CC BY 4.0 license.