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By Jenny Cheshire, Viv Edwards, Henk Münstermann and Bert Weltens (Editors)

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Sample text

We think the answer includes two factors: ignorance and fear. More often than not the authorities are not familiar with recent research findings. As a result they lack basic insights into matters of language variation and their social implications. Typical of this ignorance is the fact that the civil servant mentioned earlier is puzzled by the good results he occasionally observes, < previous page page_25 next page > < previous page page_26 next page > Page 26 despite what he himself describes as unsatisfactory classroom situations (Dambre, 1985: 72).

It should be noted that the experimenter and the pupils were quite familiar with one another, since the former frequently visited the classroom and participated in class activities. All the items formed part of the children's conversational competence. They were selected partly on the grounds of simplicity and partly because there were clear phonological and morphological differences between the terms in the different language varieties. The test was carried out twice. The first time the experimenter simply showed the pictures and asked the pupils to name them.

Either they do not care about the norm of the school any longer, having acquired their own identity, or they may have adjusted their own language in the classroom so much that it is accepted there. The feeling of a demand for language shift is typical among the girls in grade 8, but not among the boys. This may reflect different upbringing patterns, something that may also be reflected in the distribution of language varieties between the sexes: almost twice as many boys as girls were dialect speakers.

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