Language Variation and Change

Research Article

Aspects of identity in a second language: ING variation in the speech of Polish migrants living in Manchester, UK

Rob Drummonda1

a1 Manchester Metropolitan University


This study uses variationist methods in an L2 context to investigate ING variation in the English speech of UK-based Polish migrants. The results suggest that such variation is as consistent in an L2 context as it is in an L1 context, with several of the expected L1 factors emerging as statistically significant constraints. However, two social factors emerge as particularly worthy of further discussion: the reversal of the typical gender pattern (in this case women are more likely to use the alveolar variant than men), and the question of whether the speaker intends to return to Poland in the future. Gender is discussed from the perspective of contexts of language use (occupation), and future plans is discussed in terms of its role in the construction of identity. There is a strong indication that the intention to return to Poland encourages the use of an ING variant, [ɪŋk], that signals this allegiance to the L1 identity.


I would like to thank Maciej Baranowski for his valuable advice on earlier versions of this text. I would also like to thank the three anonymous reviewers who each offered very useful comments.