Language Change Across the Lifespan – Article Example

The paper "Language Change Across the Lifespan" is an exceptional example of an educational article review.
In this article, the authors Sankoff & Blondeau claim that over a period of time, individuals tend to undergo changes in articulation with regard to the spoken language. This argument was supported by a study carried out on individual speakers in a Montreal French community, where it was observed that the community rapidly shifted its use of apical to dorsal over a period of time. The authors posit that after a 'critical period' linguistic modifications in later life i.e., post-adolescence are / can be significantly expanded when the use of linguistic variables assume greater significance in the social lives of individuals. The key goal of this article was to examine the changes experienced by individual speakers past a critical period, in this case, puberty.

This study bridges the gap between language change in a historical sense and language change as experienced by individual speakers by directly addressing the issue and studying the patterns of phonological changes in a group of individuals. In order to ascertain the hypothesis, the study focuses on three key goals namely a longitudinal study to assess the extent of change in language over time; previous studies to observe the change in trend; and the role of a critical period in language acquisition to measure the change in language. This article essentially focuses on the study of /r/ and the change in the manner in which it is pronounced in the Montreal French community during a particular period when the older, apical /r/ was in rapid regression and was replaced by the posterior or dorsal [R].


The article also provides an overview of a wide range of longitudinal studies (such as panel studies or trend studies) conducted over the years and the valuable contributions made by the results derived therefrom. It also offers valuable insights about the observations afforded by these studies especially with regard to language patterns and concepts such as the 'Apparent Time' concept; 'Age Grading'; generational change; and communal change. In conclusion, the article concluded that contrary to their initial beliefs about language change in individual speakers, most of the majority of [R] users in the 1970s and 80s changed their pronunciation at some time later than the period of initial L1 acquisition. Thus indicating a need for further studies focusing on the changes to individual language acquisition in later life. It also emphasized the need for language studies across the lifespan rather than focusing on a particular period, to better understand the patterns of language acquisition and change in individuals.