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Auteur: Dennis PRESTON

The cycle of attitude and language change

Abstract/Résumé: Modern linguistics has been especially concerned with the cognitive factors that lie behind language production, whether they are placed in a language module or are a selection of more general capacities. We also now seem to agree that comprehension is not simply the unpacking of production, using (backwards, one assumes) the same capacities that allowed for language delivery in the first place (if indeed it is the “first place”). Newer attitudes to perception and comprehension have caused us to look at them from other points of view, not downplaying the intimacy of their relationship to production, but often assigning cognitive strategies to one area or the other that may have been independently arrived at. In this presentation I want to focus on even newer research that suggests that how we regard language influences not only what we choose to do, the most typical research area of sociolinguistics, but also what we perceive (and therefore comprehend). If this is so, then studies of language regard (attitudes, folk beliefs and theories, and ideologies) are interesting not only for their ethnographic and social psychological value but also for the role they may play in more general concerns of language variation and change on the one hand and perception on the other. I will outline the relationships among production, perception (comprehension), and regard on the basis of several experimental, survey, and qualitative research findings and try to develop a linguistically oriented cognitive model of language regard, one, however, that exploits variation in the domain of regard in the same way it is exploited in performance.