ERIC Number: ED154619
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1977
Reference Count: 0
Children's Linguistic Attitudes: A Study and Some Implications.
Light, Richard L.
Linguists and psychologists have disagreed concerning the development and nature of children's social perceptions of others on the basis of speech differences. The present study sought to determine in what ways 8- and 9-year olds from different socioeconomic backgrounds might react to dialect differences. Ninety-two randomly selected 8- and 9-year-old children of both sexes from three schools listened to two recorded speech samples, one from a well-educated black woman who spoke standard English and the other from a black woman who was less educated and who spoke nonstandard Black English. The children were asked to complete a semantic differential scale for each voice. A free discussion then elicited additional information from the children concerning their attitudes toward the speakers. In general, positive qualities, such as "smart,""pretty,""rich," and "nice," were attributed more often to the standard-english speaker, with qualities such as "dumb,""ugly,""poor," and "mean," attributed more often to the non-standard speaker. Results show that the subjects are sensitive to speech differences and have absorbed many of the attitudes of society toward standard and nonstandard speech. The discussion period indicated that they are also able to conceptualize verbally their attitudes toward speech differences. However, they have not yet formed a racial stereotype matching the adult model, since responses functioned independently of perceived race to a degree not previously suspected. It is suggested that factors in addition to speech characteristics must be considered in planning intervention techniques relating to children's cross-cultural attitudes. (Author/AM)
Descriptors: Attitude Measures, Black Dialects, Black Stereotypes, Child Language, Childhood Attitudes, Concept Formation, Cultural Education, Cultural Images, Dialect Studies, Language Attitudes, Language Variation, Negative Attitudes, Nonstandard Dialects, North American English, Racial Attitudes, Semantic Differential, Social Attitudes, Social Influences, Sociolinguistics, Standard Spoken Usage, Stereotypes, Verbal Communication
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A