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Apparent Time Hypothesis
Definition: The assumption that one's speech reflects the state of the language at the time one learned one's language as a child. For example, a speaker born in 1950 would reflect the dialect of their community spoken as they were growing up, whereas a speaker born in 1980 would reflect the state of the language thirty years later. Based on the apparent time hypothesis, researchers often infer patterns of language change by looking at the speech of different generations of speakers at a single moment in time.
Source: American English, second edition by Walt Wolfram and Natalie Schilling-Estes