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Styling in a Language Learned Later in Life



This article analyses the styles of English produced by an adult migrant who started to speak the language later in life, and it approaches them from the perspective of quantitative style-shifting and discursive stylization. After defining style and the procedures needed to justify the term ‘L2,’ the study describes the focal informant's diasporic experience in London and then shows how his style-shifting and some of his L2 speech variants chime with now well-established local patterns. It then turns to stylization in the performance of character speech in narrative, exploring the complex and not always effective relationship between linguistic form, discursive context, and socio-indexical resonance, first in the informant's performance of Anglo vs. Indian styles and then in his production of vernacular Anglo. The article concludes with a characterization of his participation in the London sociolinguistic economy and comments on linguistic anthropology's potential value to studies of L2 style. Overall, it seeks to navigate a route between a priori assumptions about linguistic deficiency in SLA on the one hand, and romantic celebrations of difference in sociolinguistics on the other.