Egocentric and allocentric learning of social-indexical meaning in American English, Datooga, and Murrinhpatha

AbstractWe address competing perspectives on how social-indexical meaning is learned in language, using data from artificial language learning experiments and two studies in small-scale societies. Our results indicate that learning social-indexical meaning is primarily allocentric as opposed to egocentric: speaker success in learning a social-indexical meaning pattern depends on overall exposure to the pattern more than the pattern's relative importance to the speaker. We base these claims on data from American English-speaking adults, Datooga-speaking children, as well as adults and children speaking Murrinhpatha. The results highlight the importance of widening the sample of methods and data sources in studying how variation in language is learned and maintained.

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