Mary Kohn

‘The Atlantic’ takes notice!

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Thanks to Adrienne LaFrance for helping us dispel the myth that teens are ruining language! Check out her article here! While this article focuses on slang, an important tool that all social groups use to form bonds and create identity, many of these same lessons can be applied to other aspects of language change. There is certainly good evidence that  important changes to language can be advanced during middle childhood and adolescence, but not all teens, nor all communities of teens push the envelope of language change. Further, in communities where rapid language changes are occurring, teens may be at the end stage of such advancements, meaning that their younger siblings are in the active process of restructuring their language. Linguists are also now turning to other key life stages to explore the impact of changing social networks and social aspirations on language. While emerging adults in their early twenties may be less linguistically flexible than they were as children, dramatic changes to friendship networks that occur when they enter college, the military, or the workforce, are likely to impact linguistic behavior as well. At ‘Kansas Speaks,’ we are excited to contribute to research that tracks how language changes and why!

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