Many sociolinguistic studies have found that female speakers prefer standard speech forms while male speakers prefer vernacular forms. This article addresses two questions: (1) when does this split between male and female language occur in the language of young children; and (2) how do little boys and girls come to prefer linguistic features which are predominant in the language of adults? Two hypotheses accounting for the mechanisms of transmission are presented – the frequency hypothesis and the role-model hypothesis – and data from a study of Danish children's acquisition of past-tense morphology is presented. The study found gender differences in the past-tense morphology of the 4-, 6- and 8-year-old participants, and it is argued that the role-model hypothesis would most adequately explain these differences. Furthermore, it is argued that early institutionalisation of children in Denmark may lead to increased peer group influence and help explain why gender differences occur at an earlier age compared to studies from the UK and the USA.
|Number of pages||12|
|Journal||International Journal of Applied Linguistics (United Kingdom)|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 2003|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Language and Linguistics
- Linguistics and Language