Language and Adolescence

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Event

George E. Pake Auditorium 2003-08-14

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Event

Language and Adolescence

We often hear the adult lament that adolescents are irresponsible, sloppy, imprecise, faddish, profane and overly-flamboyant speakers of English. Some worry that adolescents may even hurt the language, as though they were tagging the lexicon with graffiti or kicking up the grammar with their Doc Martens. Adolescents have a special place in American ideology, and it stands to reason that their language would be the object of ideological construction as well. In fact, adolescent language is no less wonderful than adult language use - perhaps a bit more wonderful - but understanding it requires a careful examination of the nature of the adolescent life stage, and the nature of the social life of language. This talk will present data from extensive ethnographic and sociolinguistic work with adolescents in the Midwest and in California, showing the role of language in the construction of the adolescent peer-based social order, and the special role of adolescents in linguistic change.

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