The Acquisition of Sociolinguistic Competence in a Lingua Franca Context Author: Mercedes Durham

Hardback - 184 pages
26 Feb 2014
Second Language Acquisition
Multilingual Matters
234 x 156


In a world where an increasing amount of communication takes place in English among non-native speakers, this study presents data from email exchanges to provide the first examination of sociolinguistic competence and the acquisition of native-like variability in an English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) context. The analysis of a range of linguistic variables (future tense, relative pronoun choice, complementizer use and adverbial placement) in the online interactions of Swiss speakers (with German, French and Italian mother tongues) allows the reader to gain a greater understanding of which linguistic features are source language-related and which are learning-related. This book will be a valuable resource for postgraduates and researchers interested in language variation and change, ELF and second language acquisition, as well as for undergraduates wanting guidance on different ways of examining sociolinguistic variables.


This is a most interesting book and offers lots of new insights into language variation and change, the role of new technologies in the evolution of language use, new speech 'communities' of multilingual speakers and also further explorations of the relationship between SLA and sociolinguistics which add to those already in existence. In addition, there are interesting implications for language teaching and learning.

- Vera Regan, University College Dublin, Ireland

Mercedes Durham's important new book contributes to our understanding of sociolinguistic variation in a multilingual context in general and to the role of English as a lingua franca in Switzerland in particular. Through rigorous analysis, the author shows how non-native speakers of English acquire considerable sociolinguistic competence. The findings reported here suggest that our ideas of sociolinguistic competence need to be redefined as English gains wider currency as a global language.

- Robert Bayley, University of California, Davis, USA

Author Biography:

Mercedes Durham is Lecturer in Sociolinguistics at Cardiff University. Her research interests include sociolinguistics, language variation and change, English as a world language, dialects of English and the acquisition of variation.

Readership Level:

Postgraduate, Research / Professional, Undergraduate

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