Sociolinguistic Variation

Sociolinguistic Variation

Sociolinguistic Variation

Sociolinguistic Variation

Synopsis

Sociolinguistic Variationbrings together a group of leading scholars in the field of language variation and change to address the directions that sociolinguistic research is taking in the new millennium. Among the main themes of the volume are the construction of identity, the nature of "place" as distinct from "community", and the role of attitudes in language variation. These themes are explored through a variety of types of data, from traditional sources such as narratives, to relatively new sources, such as postings on the Internet or television documentaries.

Combining the voices of established scholars in the field with the perspectives of promising younger scholars this volume provides crucial guidance for anyone interested in doing research on sociolinguistic variation. Contributors include Guy Bailey, Penelope Eckert, Barbara Johnstone, William Labov, Ronald Macaulay, Lesley Milroy, Dennis Preston, John Rickford, Gillian Sankoff, Natalie Schilling-Estes, Jan Tillery, and Walt Wolfram.

Excerpt

The chapters in this volume bring together some of the most prominent researchers in the field of sociolinguistic variation, both established names and newer voices, for thoughtful reflections on the field. The chapters cover a wide range of core issues, but within this diversity is a common theme: the critique of conventional wisdom in the sociolinguistic study of variation and the extension of important concepts in variationist research to new areas. This volume is the kind of work that engages the reader in dialogue, challenges assumptions, and unveils new perspectives.

Many of these chapters begin by attempting to define (or redefine) our common language, to explore the terms and concepts that unite us as sociolinguists. For instance, what characteristics are typical of (or necessary for) a remnant dialect? What exactly do we mean by language ideologies? When we propose to do ethnography, what might (or must) that encompass? Several chapters explore the concept of the speech community, directly or indirectly, in new and more dynamic ways. Presumably, there have been speech communities for as long as talking humans have banded together into social groups, but our understanding of how such communities work is continuously expanding. Some of the concepts explored here are relatively new to our field: intertextuality, for example, as it relates to the sociolinguistic interview, or postvernacular—a term for varieties acquired later in life, envisioned as part of a specific psycholinguistic model of variation.

The field of sociolinguistics is in a process of rapid evolution, in the sense of both uncovering more information about previously documented linguistic patterns and studying new patterns that have only recently come into existence. In the former category is our evolving understanding of how social contexts and the processes of . . .

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