Language, migration and identity at school: a sociolinguistic study with Polish adolescents in Glasgow

Ryan, Sadie Durkacz (2018) Language, migration and identity at school: a sociolinguistic study with Polish adolescents in Glasgow. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
[thumbnail of 2018RyanPhD.pdf] PDF
Download (14MB)
Printed Thesis Information:


When young migrants enter a new community, are they able to acquire the community’s sociolinguistic norms? In this thesis, I examine the speech of 14 adolescents who were born in Poland, and who now attend a high school in the East End of Glasgow. I spend two years in this high school, conducting ethnographic analysis and collecting speech recordings. The linguistic behaviour of these young migrants is compared to that of a matched group of seven of their classmates who were born in Glasgow. Focusing on several sociolinguistic variables from different levels of the grammar, I use quantitative analysis to ask whether the Polish speakers are matching the local patterns of use shown by their Glaswegian peers. I use quantitative and qualitative analysis to explore why some individuals are matching these patterns to a greater extent than others.

The results show that as a group, the Polish speakers come close to matching the rates of use shown by the Glaswegian speakers. They have successfully replicated some of the native constraints on the variation, although not all. They have also innovated some constraints on use which are not significant for the Glaswegian speakers. I suggest that these innovations represent a type of hypercorrection in some cases, and a lexical diffusion effect in others.

I find that the individual learners are not all acquiring sociolinguistic variation to the same extent or in the same way. The individual differences observed are not explained by the length of time an individual has spent in Glasgow. Neither are they explained by the age at which an individual arrived in Glasgow, or by an individual’s gender. Instead, I suggest that friendship networks may play a role in the acquisition of more highly-constrained, ‘under-the-counter’ variables, and individual speaker agency and identity may play a role in the acquisition of the variables which are higher in speaker awareness.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Sociolinguistics, sociolinguistic variation, second language acquisition, L2, multilingualism, identity, migration, education, school, Glaswegian, adolescence.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies
Supervisor's Name: Smith, Professor Jennifer, Arizpe, Dr. Evelyn, Cohen, Dr. Clara and Stuart-Smith, Professor Jane
Date of Award: 2018
Depositing User: Dr Sadie Durkacz Ryan
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-30681
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 08 Aug 2018 14:06
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2018 07:13

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year