English language and linguistics research seminar: Kathleen McCarthy, Queen Mary University of London: A community-specific approach to studying multilingual acquisition in urban centres.
Large urban centres, such as London UK, are often celebrated for their diverse and multicultural linguistic environment. Children who grow up in such communities are exposed to a rich variety of languages and accents, leading to language patterns that likely vary throughout childhood and into adulthood. Yet, current multilingualism research excludes a significant proportion of urban multilinguals – particularly major diaspora communities and their heritage languages, which remain hugely understudied and unaccounted for in language acquisition research (Kidd & Garcia, 2023, Nielson et al., 2017). Furthermore, our methods and approaches for studying multilingualism often exhibit biases towards practices developed in Western communities (Henrich, 2010). In this talk, I will focus on sociophonetic acquisition in two understudied yet significant multilingual communities in London, UK: the Bangladeshi community in East London, and the strictly Orthodox Jewish (Haredi) community in North London. I will present findings from a series of studies that have investigated how unique community structures, both linguistic and social, give rise to varying speech production patterns. To conclude, I will discuss some methodological considerations when working with understudied diaspora communities. Specifically, I will explore how adopting a community-specific approach can unveil unique factors that may drive the acquisition of linguistic patterns in urban communities.
Information about Kathleen McCarthy's research can be found on her website: https://www.qmul.ac.uk/sllf/linguistics/people/academic/profiles/mccarthy.html