“Ya’ll need to come down for dinner now!”

It was the sound of my mother’s voice booming from downstairs. Aside the annoyance within her tone, she had utilized a linguistic feature that was non-existent in my own speech performance. She had collectively referred to me and my siblings using the informal “you” plural.

My mother was born and raised in Mumbai, India; despite the fact that she has spent the majority of her life in the United States, she still maintained a thick Indian accent through her pronunciation and distinct lexical choices. My accent, unlike hers, was quintessentially American. Phrases like “dude, pass the butter” would sound entirely different from both our separate mouths.

This always fascinated me. My parents, of course had spoken to me since I was very young and taught me to speak, yet I had acquired linguistic features of much closer resemblance to my peers. Friends I brought home from school would immediately notice my mother’s foreign accent. Although English is my parents’ first language, occasionally I would have to recompose awkward utterances for them to avoid miscommunications. As I grew older, my level of maturity remained static as I would sometimes mock their accents to annoy them.

It was not just my parents’ accent that was different from my own. Growing up in New York, I was encompassed by a wide range of local dialects and varieties of English. Every passing neighbourhood was a representation of a unique and diverse culture; the words spoken by each individual were intertwined with their identity. Language is utilized for purposes beyond a means of transaction; it had both functional and social properties that are shaped by the people who use it.

When I came to study at the University of Glasgow, I enjoyed learning about sociolinguistics within the English Language course. It opened my eyes to variation within speech based on different social and linguistic factors. There were various intriguing studies which analysed a multitude of facets in relation to speech performance. Most importantly, it answered questions I had pondered for a while: why were my parents’ accents were so different from my own?

In a broader sense, coming to Glasgow has shaped who I am as a person in many ways. Over the last four years, I went from teenage angst and uncertain to living on my own and fairly sensible. I’ve even picked up plenty of Scottish lingo and vernacular along the way. In particular the informal “you” plural made a reoccurrence in the form of “youse”. Although the various forms of the “you” plural are still considered non-standard realizations, I am able to construct a descriptive approach towards them and appreciate them for their practicality.

Conducting further research within the field of sociolinguistics is important to me because it would expand my knowledge and skills whist creating the potential for interesting discoveries within new projects. Studying details of language performance provides numerous of explanations for human behaviour in a social and linguistic sense.

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