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Community Speech Norms’ Acquisition by Asian Immigrants Essay (Critical Writing)


The research conducted by Adamson and Regan (1991) aimed at investigating the acquisition pattern of sociolinguistic norms by individuals using English as their second language (L2). The investigators have carried out their study among non-heterogeneous English speakers. In particular, the research targeted at determining “the variation of (ing) in the native and nonnative speech samples” (Adamson & Regan, 1991, p. 9). The research details are as follows:

  • The Vietnamese and Cambodian native and non-native speakers have been researched.
  • All of the participants lived either in Philadelphia or in Washington, DC.
  • The G variant (/ng/) in the language phonology has been considered as prestige and the N option (/n/) as non-prestige.
  • It was stated that the adoption of the second variant by the speakers should be considered a form of their junction in the speech community.
  • The variation of G form has been analysed using the VARBRUL computer program to provide a statistic association.
  • Due to the fact that the study was preliminary in character, it was assumed that the adoption of the particular phonological norm was complicated by the difficulty in separation of horizontal variation from the vertical one.
  • It was also suggested that the non-native speakers would adopt the prestige version in cases when their native language utilised the same version as well.

The research findings have determined that from the sociolinguistic point of view, women are more inclined to using prestige variants compared to men. Therefore, it became possible to state that the use of L2 standards is targeted by gender (Adamson & Regan, 1991). It was justified by the fact that women from the sample size belonging to the group with English as a second language would use the G variant while men would resort to N form.


Adamson and Regan (1991) researched the individuals learning English and the patterns that they employed. To be more precise, it was researched the way people adopt either the pronunciation of /ng/ or /n/ form and why a particular variant was more preferable. The individuals of Cambodian and Vietnamese origin have been studied, and the sample consisted of both native and non-native English speakers.

As it was stated by the theorists, in general, native speakers would opt for a particular pronunciation in accordance with their gender identification. That is to say, women tend to employ the /ng/ pronunciation, which is considered a more privileged form while men mostly adopt the /n/ form. It has been linked to the desire of women to display their status consciousness while, in the majority of cases, men are somewhat indifferent to this distinction (Adamson & Regan, 1991).

In the case of non-native English speakers, a tendency to produce less /n/ was revealed. Nevertheless, a gender division has also been identified. Cambodian and Vietnamese men pronounced the ending as /n/ more frequently, which has been referred to as an unconscious desire to sound similar to male English speakers for whom this language was native. Importantly, the use of /n/ form served as a measure of the individual’s integration into the community.

Thus, the researchers have concluded that the acquisition of certain phonologic and linguistic patterns does correlate with the social class and gender of speakers. Those individuals learning English as their second language employ the gendered native speaker variation patterns, and this might occur unconsciously (Adamson & Regan, 1991). The findings suggest that individuals studying a foreign language place emphasis on the gendered employment of certain patterns of the native speakers, which might proceed to various reasons including psychological and normative ones.

Informed Response to Key Theoretical Concepts

The research has successfully addressed the issue of multifactoriality. In particular, the researchers have considered the principle of multiple causes to the adoption of either /ng/ or /n/ pattern and the factors determining it. The results have revealed that the variation in the speech of English L2 speakers was influenced both directly and indirectly by various social and linguistic factors. In addition, the findings validated that this variation was, in fact, systematic (Eckert, 2012). In the course of the study, it was proved that VARBRUL was an efficient tool for such variable analysis.

The area of the study that lacked precision was the role of community membership. It is worthy of noting that some researchers have carried out similar investigations about naturalistic learners; however, the results that they have gathered differ from that of the current report (Schleef, Meyerhoff, & Clark, 2011). Therefore, it can be assumed that apart from studying the variables it was significant to determine the way the sociolinguistic development was influenced by this major category (Geeslin & Long, 2014).

Some of the researchers have identified no correlation between the sociobiographic or stylistic factors and the influence of sex. However, the research by Adamson and Regan (1991) has reported this association. The group of theorists has determined that men tend to adopt male speech patterns employed by the native population rather than sticking to commonly accepted phonetic forms. Vietnamese and Cambodian non-native men would place particular attention on the use of patterns employed by native males. Thus, the VARBUL tool has revealed that gender factor is among the leading ones. Therefore, to either support or invalidate this hypothesis, further statistical studies should be conducted.

Critical Overview

It should be noted that the authors have employed a three-step procedure. Initially, they have reviewed the existing body of knowledge in terms of the naturalistic learners, and then they gathered and compiled their report regarding the research findings. After that, they presented the variation that was exhibited by the representatives of Vietnamese and Cambodian sample groups (Adamson & Regan, 1991). This approach has enabled the investigators to compare the results obtained at that time with the existing theoretical construct and draw conclusions about the factors.

Nonetheless, a certain limitation in the methodology can be concluded to the size of the sample and, therefore, the intensity of variables expressed within the sample group. Notably, 520 representatives from the native speaker group were analysed.

Respectively, only 288 individuals constituted the control group in the case of non-native speakers (Adamson & Regan, 1991). In addition, the conclusion about the gendered employment of phonetic norms has been drawn based on unequal sex distribution (the number of male participants was different from that of females). To be able to verify this hypothesis, the research team will need to rely upon a larger database.

However, most importantly, as stressed by experts, the information obtained from a cross-sectional study should not be used to provide an association with the developmental tendencies (Eckert, 2012). Therefore, it is highly advisable to expand the research findings with the data gathered from a longitudinal study. This approach will ensure that the results have been verified and can be considered relevant and reliable.

The key contribution of this article can be reflected in the fact that it allowed identifying the causal link between linguistic norms and their employment depending on the gender. The significance of the research lies in its revelation of the importance of sex in terms of sociolinguistics (Adamson & Regan, 1991). That is to say, the authors have found the evidence proving that community speech norms depend on particular social factors.

The scholarly nature of the text and its crucial findings have predetermined its inclusion in the educational curriculum. Regarding my individual experience, the reading has thrown light on the perspective that was previously unknown to me. The comprehension of such tendency as gendered native speaker variation patterns and the employment of those by non-native speakers will enable me to carry out my personal research relying on this assumption.

If the article were written today, the research would be carried out differently. As it was mentioned earlier, the study has evidenced the usability of VARBUL tool; however, the researches carried out further evidenced the need to verify and refine the result using other variation analysis tools. Apart from that, despite the fact that the article written by Adamson and Regan (1991) is evidence-based, it can serve as the fundamental body of knowledge solely since it requires further investigation.

It is rather difficult to state whether the same method can be utilized to answer my queries about sociolinguistics since the approach will depend on the variables. Nonetheless, when this study was implemented, it has revealed a new perspective on the significance of gender and sociolinguistic patterns (Geeslin & Long, 2014). More importantly, it has allowed questioning and debating the existing concepts, which is indeed significant for the advancement of scientific knowledge.


Adamson, H. D., & Regan, V. (1991). The acquisition of community speech norms by Asian immigrants learning English as a second language: A preliminary study. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 13(1), 1-22.

Eckert, P. (2012). Three waves of variation study: The emergence of meaning in the study of sociolinguistic variation. Annual Review of Anthropology, 11(41), 87-100.

Geeslin, K., & Long, A. (2014). Sociolinguistics and second language acquisition. London, UK: Routledge.

Schleef, E., Meyerhoff, M., & Clark, L. (2011). Teenagers’ acquisition of variation: A comparison of locally-born and migrant teens’ realisation of English (ing) in Edinburgh and London. English World-Wide, 32(2), 206-236.

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"Community Speech Norms' Acquisition by Asian Immigrants." IvyPanda, 5 Aug. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/community-speech-norms-acquisition-by-asian-immigrants/.

1. IvyPanda. "Community Speech Norms' Acquisition by Asian Immigrants." August 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/community-speech-norms-acquisition-by-asian-immigrants/.


IvyPanda. "Community Speech Norms' Acquisition by Asian Immigrants." August 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/community-speech-norms-acquisition-by-asian-immigrants/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Community Speech Norms' Acquisition by Asian Immigrants." August 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/community-speech-norms-acquisition-by-asian-immigrants/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Community Speech Norms' Acquisition by Asian Immigrants'. 5 August.

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