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Shy but not Silent: A Socially Sensitive Study of the Speaking Abilities of Ten Sylheti Women

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Mabel LieORCiD


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The focus of this study is the link between socio-cultural factors and the speaking abilities of ten Sylheti women who live in the West End of Newcastle upon Tyne. This is achieved by means of the sociolinguistic application of social network analysis with ethnographic case studies to take into consideration cultural and religious factors as well. Perspectives from the field of second language acquisition confirm the importance of interaction in learning interlinked with cognitive, affective and environmental factors. The grammatical features of the women’s interlanguage are examined for observable patterns which were found to correlate with a native-speaker’s assessment of the speaking abilities of the women. Both structural and content characteristics of the women’s personal networks are then analysed. The study provides evidence that there is a definite link between the women’s index of contact (number of English-speaking ties) and their speaking ability level as assessed by the native speaker. This link, however, is farfrom simple as socio-cultural and religious factors come into play in the lives of the individual women with their different personal circumstances.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lie M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Multilingua

Year: 2002

Volume: 21

Issue: 4

Pages: 371-398

ISSN (print): 0167-8507

ISSN (electronic): 1613-3684

Publisher: Mouton de Gruyter