ISSUES IN SECOND LANGUAGE LEVELS: THE SOCIOLINGUISTIC VARIABLES IN THE SPEECH OF PORT-HARCOURT STREET GANGS
It is increasingly apparent from study such as this that individuals exercise a considerable degree of choice whether conscious or subconscious over the linguistic variables or forms they use in their daily speech, within the constraint imposed by intelligibility considerations. These choices can make an essential contribution to the indexing of personal stance, identity, and communicative function. The freedom which the speakers have to define, use, change and move between different identity based sociolects starkly shows the pitfalls which sociolinguists risk by failing to take social variation into account when postulating functional explanation for patterns that may exist in standard variety. This paper seeks to find out how Port Harcourt Street gangs construct their social identity at all levels of language: phonetic, phonology, morphology, lexicon, and syntax. It also seeks to identify some of their linguistic behaviours and peculiarities such as specific forms of salutations, and other common fixed phrases. They often shift away from the society model in favour of high usage of nonstandard linguistic forms which result in new and typologically marked patterns. The paper will among other issues find out the nonstandard usage of linguistic variables or forms occasioned by the ideological objectives of the groups to which the street gangs belong and the implication of such belonging. The work recommends that there should be a scientific collection of these linguistic variables and that they should be added in the list of (English) vocabulary as a distinct form of language level in a second language situation
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