The influence of social network properties on language processing and use
Language is a social phenomenon. The author learns, processes, and uses it in social contexts. In other words, the social environment shapes the linguistic knowledge and use of the knowledge. To a degree, this is trivial. A child exposed to Japanese will become fluent in Japanese, whereas a child exposed to only Spanish will not understand Japanese but will master the sounds, vocabulary, and grammar of Spanish. Language is a structured system. Sounds and words do not occur randomly but are characterized by regularities. Learners are sensitive to these regularities and exploit them when learning language. People differ in the sizes of their social networks. Some people tend to interact with only a few people, whereas others might interact with a wide range of people. This is reflected in people’s holiday greeting habits: some people might send cards to only a few people, whereas other would send greeting cards to more than 350 people.
Publication typeBook chapter