Principles of Linguistic Change, Cognitive and Cultural Factors / Edition 1

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This third and final volume of the Principles of Linguistic Change set examines the cognitive and cultural causes responsible for linguistic change, and traces the history of these developments, from triggering events to driving forces and endpoints.

Labov draws upon the newly completed Atlas of North American English to look more deeply into questions of linguistic change, focusing on the cognitive factors that determine the capacity of the linguistic system to transmit information, and exploring social influences in the development of large-scale cultural patterns. The third volume also deals with the diffusion of change across dialect boundaries, and across racial and ethnic groups.

It establishes an essential distinction between transmission within the community, which is dependent on child language acquisition, and diffusion across communities, which is dependent on adult learning.

This final installment in the Principles of Linguistic Change series builds upon the foundations established by the groundbreaking first two volumes. Volume 1 investigates the internal factors that control change, examining the regularity of sound change and reviewing the evidence for functional explanations of linguistic change. Volume 2 follows by presenting the social factors governing linguistic change and proposed models for the transmission and incrementation of change. Written by the pioneering researcher of sociolinguistic inquiry, Principles of Linguistic Change is an essential resource for researchers, scholars and students in the field.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The culminating volume in Labov's magnum opus on language variation and change will assure forever his indelible imprint on the field of linguistics. Thanks to Labov, the field should never be the same."
Walt Wolfram, North Carolina State University

"William Labov completes his monumental study of sound change by examining the forces that drive divergence and convergence in neighboring communities. His impeccable attention to detail is illuminated, as always, by his sensitivity to the social, communal and personal motives that lie behind the ways in which we talk to one another."
J.K. Chambers, University of Toronto

"Labov's inexhaustible creative wellspring produces a fountain of insight and essential reading for all scholars concerned with language as a dynamic social organism. This volume assembles elements of his work into a grand mosaic: a work of science, but also a work of art."
Gregory R. Guy, New York University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405112147
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 11/9/2010
  • Series: Language in Society Series, #32
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

William Labov is Professor of Linguistics and Director of the Linguistics Laboratory, University of Pennsylvania. His major studies include The Social Stratification of English in New York City (1966), Sociolinguistic Patterns (1972), Language in the Inner City (1972), Principles of Linguistic Change: Internal Factors (Wiley-Blackwell, 1994) and Principles of Linguistic Change, Volume II: Social Factors (Wiley-Blackwell, 2001). With S. Ash and C. Boberg, he published the Atlas of North American English in 2006.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures xii

List of Tables xxi

Foreword xxiv

Preface xxvi

Abbreviations xxvii

1 Introduction to Cognitive and Cultural Factors in Linguistic Change 1

1.1 Cognitive Factors 1

1.2 Cultural Factors in Linguistic Change 2

1.3 Convergence and Divergence 4

1.4 The Darwinian Paradox Revisited 6

1.5 Divergence and the Central Dogma 7

1.6 The Community Orientation of Language Learning 8

1.7 The Argument of this Volume 10

1.8 The English Vowel System and the Major Chain Shifts of North American English 11

Part A Cross-Dialectal Comprehension 19

2 Natural Misunderstandings 21

2.1 The Collection of Natural Misunderstandings 22

2.2 Modes of Correction 23

2.3 How Common Are Misunderstandings" 26

2.4 What Is the Role of Sound Change in Misunderstanding" 27

2.5 The Linguistic Focus of the Misunderstandings 28

2.6 The Effect of Mergers 33

2.7 Chain Shifts 37

2.8 Philadelphia Sound Changes 40

2.9 r-less vs r-ful Dialects 44

2.10 Sound Changes General to North America 45

2.11 An Overview of Natural Misunderstandings 46

3 A Controlled Experiment on Vowel Identification 48

3.1 The Peterson-Barney Experiment 49

3.2 Replicating the Peterson-Barney Experiment 49

3.3 Overall Success in Identification 52

3.4 Responses to the Chicago Speakers 52

3.5 Responses to the Birmingham Speakers 54

3.6 Responses to the Philadelphia Speakers 56

3.7 Overview 57

4 The Gating Experiments 59

4.1 Construction of the Gating Experiments 59

4.2 Overall Responses to the Gating Experiments 60

4.3 Comprehension of the Northern Cities Shift in Chicago 64

4.4 Recognition of Chicago Sound Changes in the Word Context 69

4.5 The Effect of Lexical Equivalence 71

4.6 Comprehension of Southern Sound Changes in Birmingham 72

4.7 Comprehension of Philadelphia Sound Changes 77

4.8 Overview of the Gating Experiments 83

Part B The Life History of Linguistic Change 87

5 Triggering Events 89

5.1 Bends in the Chain of Causality 90

5.2 Causes of the Canadian Shift 93

5.3 Causes of the Pittsburgh Shift 96

5.4 Causes of the Low Back Merger 99

5.5 The Fronting of /uw/ 103

5.6 The Northern Cities Shift 111

5.7 An Overview of Triggering Events 118

6 Governing Principles 120

6.1 The Constraints Problem 120

6.2 The (Ir)Reversibility of Mergers 121

6.3 The Geographic Expansion of Mergers in North America 130

6.4 Principles Governing Chain Shifts 140

6.5 Principles Governing Chain Shifting within Subsystems 145

6.6 How Well Do Governing Principles Govern" 152

7 Forks in the Road 155

7.1 The Concept of Forks in the Road 155

7.2 The Two-Stage Model of Dialect Divergence 156

7.3 The Fronting and Backing of Short a 157

7.4 Divergent Development of the /o/ ∼ /oh/ Opposition 161

8 Divergence 165

8.1 Continuous and Discrete Boundaries 165

8.2 The North/Midland Boundary 166

8.3 Communication across the North/Midland Boundary 170

8.4 The Two-Step Mechanism of Divergence 172

8.5 Unidirectional Change: The Low Back Merger 173

8.6 Consequences of the Low Back Merger for the English Vowel System 174

8.7 Resistance to the Low Back Merger 175

8.8 Further Differentiation by Chain Shifts 180

8.9 A General View of Linguistic Divergence in North America 182

9 Driving Forces 184

9.1 The Importation of Norms 185

9.2 Locality 185

9.3 Social Networks and Communities of Practice 186

9.4 Socioeconomic Classes 190

9.5 Acts of Identity 193

9.6 The Relation of Social Classes in Apparent Time 195

9.7 Gender as a Social Force 197

9.8 The Regional Dialect 202

9.9 Accounting for the Uniform Progress of the Northern Cities Shift 204

10 Yankee Cultural Imperialism and the Northern Cities Shift 208

10.1 The North/Midland Boundary 208

10.2 The History of the North/Midland Boundary 211

10.3 The Material Basis of the North/Midland Opposition 214

10.4 The Cultural Opposition of Yankees and Upland Southerners 216

10.5 Coincidence with Geographic Boundaries of Political Cultures 218

10.6 Red States, Blue States, and the Northern Dialect Region 221

10.7 Relation of Dialects to County Voting Patterns 222

10.8 The History of the Death Penalty 225

10.9 Ideological Oppositions in the North 227

10.10 The Geographic Transformation 231

11 Social Evaluation of the Northern Cities Shift 236

11.1 The North/Midland Experiment 1 237

11.2 Conclusion 244

12 Endpoints 245

12.1 Skewness as an Index of Approach to Endpoint 246

12.2 Social Characteristics of Endpoints 249

12.3 The Eckert Progression as the Product of Re-Analysis by Language Learners 254

Part C The Unit of Linguistic Change 257

13 Words Floating on the Surface of Sound Change 259

13.1 The Issues Reviewed 260

13.2 The Fronting of /uw/ 261

13.3 The Fronting of /ow/ 268

13.4 Homonyms 273

13.5 The Raising and Fronting of /æ/ in the Inland North 274

13.6 Overview 277

13.7 Participation in Sound Change 277

13.8 The Modular Separation of Phonological and Social Factors 282

13.9 Conclusion 285

14 The Binding Force in Segmental Phonology 287

14.1 Is There Allophonic Chain Shifting before Nasals" 292

14.2 Allophonic Chain Shifting in the Southern Shift" 295

14.3 The Binding Force 301

Part D Transmission and Diffusion 303

15 The Diffusion of Language from Place to Place 305

15.1 Family-Tree and Wave Models of Change 305

15.2 Defining Transmission and Diffusion 307

15.3 Structural Diffusion 310

15.4 Accounting for the Difference between Transmission and Diffusion 311

15.5 Diffusion in Dialect Geography 311

15.6 The Diffusion of the NYC Short-a System 316

15.7 The Transmission and Diffusion of Mergers and Splits 334

15.8 Diffusion of the Northern Cities Shift 336

15.9 The Social Context of Transmission and Diffusion 344

15.10 Prospectus 347

16 The Diffusion of Language from Group to Group 348

16.1 Diffusion to the AAVE Community 348

16.2 Influence of Surrounding Dialects on AAVE Pronunciation 349

16.3 The Diffusion of Constraints on -t, d Deletion to Children in Minority Communities 353

16.4 The Diffusion of Grammatical Variables to Adult Members of the African-American Community 360

16.5 Directions of Diffusion in the Latino Community 363

16.6 The Nature of Diffusion across Communal Boundaries 365

17 Conclusion 367

17.1 Summary of the Argument 367

17.2 The Relation of Linguistic Change to Animal Systems of Communication 369

17.3 More on the Functions of Language 371

17.4 Social Intelligence and Object-Oriented Intelligence 373

Notes 376

References 394

Index 413

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