Becoming local: Exploring adolescents' sociolinguistic limits and potential
Since 2004, Britain has witnessed the “largest single wave of in-migration that the British Isles have ever experienced” (Salt and Millar 2006: 335). Polish workers and their families accounted for 64.4% of immigration from the “new” (A8) EU nations to the UK in 2004. We report initial findings from a research project investigating the acquisition of sociolinguistic variation in English by adolescent Polish immigrants living in Edinburgh. We question to what extent Polish adolescent immigrants are acquiring the variable grammar of their local peer group. To do this, we examine the speech of some Polish adolescents living in Edinburgh and compare their use of the (ing) variable with that of Edinburgh-born adolescents. Our findings suggest that Polish adolescent migrants are acquiring both „local‟ Edinburgh constraints on (ing) variation and „supra-local‟ constraints found to operate on (ing) in other varieties of British English and American English. We exemplify this with the pattern of grammaticality constraints operating on (ing) for these teenagers.