New model for bilingual minds in sociolinguistic variation situations: Interacting social and linguistic constraints

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter


I present a new model for bilingual minds in sociolinguistic variation situations, proposing and incorporating a set of social constraints into Optimality Theory and the Gradual Learning Algorithm. Incorporating social constraints with linguistic constrains is essential to provide explanation of the grammar differences among speakers belonging to the same or different social groups. The naturally occurring speech of fifty-two migrant rural speakers of Colloquial Arabic to the city of Hims in Syria comprises the data set. The intra- and inter-speaker variation in the use of [q] and [?] is used to demonstrate the working mechanism of the model that gives a mental representation of what occurs in a varying speaker's mind in a certain sociolinguistic setting. The shift to the use of the urban prestigious form, [?], in the city indicates that social constraints are variable and setting-relative. The difference in the ranking values of social constraints among speakers influence the speakers' variable percentages of [q] and [?]. Manipulating the output percentages from which speakers learn gives the specific sociolinguistic grammar of each speaker or group of speakers and their output percentages that match real life occurrences. Consequently, the model reflects on the social networks of speakers because the degree of input of a form affects the degree of acquisition of that form. Among the many advantages of this new model is giving expectation on what the speech of a speaker will sound like if certain social constraints are involved. Most importantly, this model unifies the linguistic and social aspects of language in one theoretical framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Psychology Research
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages38
ISBN (Electronic)9781536117660
ISBN (Print)9781613243176
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012


  • Arabic
  • Bilingualism
  • Gradual learning algorithm
  • Optimality theory
  • Rural migration
  • Social constraints
  • Sociolinguistic variation
  • Urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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