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Extra info for Languages in America: A Pluralist View (Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 10)

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Finding similar evidence in a study in Norwich, England, Peter Trudgill (1972) suggested that the reason for this difference was that women, lacking occupations with which to identify themselves, relied on the way they presented themselves in public for self-esteem and a sense of value; they tended to model their behavior on what they believed to be the norms of a better-situated class. Today, this explanation may still apply. Although most American women work outside the home, only a small percentage work in high-status, high-paying jobs.

A ground-breaking sociolinguistic study of the speech styles of Lower East Side New Yorkers was conducted by William Labov (1966). One of his findings was that, among the nine social classes identified there, lower-middle-class women were the most likely to adopt elements of speech associated with higher-class speakers when engaged in formal communication, even resorting to hypercorrection in order to approximate this speech style. Labov noted that men in the same class were more likely to value the tough talk associated with blue-collar occupations, a kind of talk identified with masculinity and physical strength.

Where family members live plays a role in the language used; those residing in ethnic neighborhoods maintain the first language when interacting with friends in the community. Choice of occupation is also an important factor. Those working in a family-run store, or who are employed within the ethnic enclave, may use the native language. Those who move into the mainstream workforce outside the neighborhood adapt to the demands of that situation and communicate in English. The younger generation's choice of social contacts also affects their language of communication.

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