Variationist Sociolinguistics: Change, Observation, Interpretation

Variationist Sociolinguistics: Change, Observation, Interpretation

by Sali A. Tagliamonte

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Variationist Sociolinguistics: Change, Observation, Interpretation presents a comprehensive, intermediate level examination of Language Variation and Change, the branch of sociolinguistics concerned with linguistic variation in spoken and written language.
  • Represents the most up-to-date coverage of the history, developments, and methodologies of variationist sociolinguistics
  • Addresses all aspects of linguistic variation, including areas not usually covered in introductory texts, e.g. the phonological, morpho-syntactic, discourse/pragmatic
  • Outlines comparative sociolinguistic approach, data collection, methodological issues; and addresses state-of-the-art contemporary quantitative methods and statistical practice
  • Features cutting-edge research at an appropriate level to facilitate student learning
  • Engages students throughout with a variety of pedagogical features, including Mini Quizzes to test comprehension, extensive Exercises at the end of each chapter, the opportunity to do hands-on quantitative analysis of a never-before published data set, and Notes and Tips that offer insight into conducting sociolinguistic research. Extra materials and answers to the exercises are available at

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781444344455
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 08/26/2011
Series: Language in Society , #39
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 424
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

Sali A. Tagliamonte is a Professor in the Linguistics Department at the University of Toronto, Canada. She is author of Analysing Sociolinguistic Variation (2006), co-author of African American English in the Diaspora: Tense and Aspect (Wiley-Blackwell, 2001), and has published on African American varieties; British, Irish, and Canadian dialects; as well as child, teen, television, and Internet languages.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments x

Foreword xii

Series Editor’s Preface xiii

Preface xiv

List of Figures xvii

List of Tables xx

1 Sociolinguistics as Language Variation and Change 1

Sociolinguistics 1

The Linguistic Variable 3

Linguistic Change 8

The Principle of Accountability 9

Circumscribing the Variable Context 10

Evolution of the Linguistic Variable 15

The Importance of Accountability 19

Language Variation and Change and Linguistic Theory 21

Exercises 22

2 Social Patterns 25

Social Class 25

Sex (or Gender) 32

Style and Register 34

Mobility in Space and Mobility in Class 35

Social Network, Communities of Practice 36

Ethnicity and Culture 38

The Mass Media 41

Age 43

Types of Change 56

Principles of Linguistic Change 62

Summary 65

Exercises 66

3 Linguistic Patterns 71

Sound Change 74

Morphological Change 76

Syntactic Change 80

Semantic Change 84

Grammaticalization 87

Lexical Effects 91

Exemplar Theory 94

Exercises 97

4 Data and Method 100

The Speech Community 100

Corpus Building 101

Creating Sociolinguistic Corpora 102

The Individual and the Group 108

Constructing an LVC Study 110

Research Ethics 115

The Gold – Your Data 116

The Real World 117

5 Quantitative Analysis 120

The Quantitative Paradigm 120

Distributional Analysis 121

Statistical Modeling 121

The Three Lines of Evidence 122

The Case Study – Variable (that) 124

Goldvarb Logistic Regression 126

Challenging the Variable Rule Program 129

Drawbacks to the Variable Rule Program 137

New Toolkits for Variationist Sociolinguistics 138

Summary 156

Exercises 157

6 Comparative Sociolinguistics 162

Comparison 162

The Comparative Method 163

Comparison in Origins 165

Comparison in Language Contact 166

Standards for Comparison 167

Variable (did) 168

Exercises 173

7 Phonological Variables 177

Variable (t,d) 179

Variable (ing) 187

Tips for Studying Phonological Variables 195

Exercises 203

8 Morpho-Syntactic Variables 206

Verbal (s) 207

Adverb (ly) 217

Modal (have to) 228

Studying Morpho-Syntactic Variables 235

Exercises 241

9 Discourse/Pragmatic Features 247

Quotative (be like) 247

General Extenders 258

Studying the Discourse/Pragmatic Variable 269

Exercises 277

10 Tense/Aspect Variables 279

Grammaticalization and Tense/Aspect Variables 280

Future (going to) 281

Perfect (have) 296

Studying Tense/Aspect Variables 308

Exercises 311

11 Other Variables 314

Variable (come) 315

Variable (Intensifi ers) 320

Language and the Internet 336

Studying Unusual Variables 342

Exercises 345

12 Sociolinguistic Explanations 349

What Are the Constraints on Change? 349

How Does Language Change? 350

How Is a Change Embedded in Social and Linguistic Systems? 350

Evaluation of a Change 351

Statistical Modeling 353

Traditional Explanations 354

The Principle of Interaction 355

Appendix A: Corpora Cited 358

Appendix B: Time Periods in the History of English 359

References 360

Subject Index 392

Index of Linguistic Variables 400

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"This book is a landmark in the study of language variation, with coverage that ranges from the practical details of gathering and processing data to the use of data in descriptive and theoretical argumentation. Best of all, it is embedded in the incredibly rich array of firsthand studies conducted by Tagliamonte and her colleagues; her research engagement and enthusiasm are truly inspiring." – Walt Wolfram, North Carolina State University

"Readers of this authoritative, up to date survey from an experienced and influential researcher are sure to catch the excitement that comes from finding out how and why language varies.” – Jenny Cheshire, Queen Mary, University of London

"This is more than an introduction: it provides a thorough training in the analysis of linguistic change and variation by a master of the trade.  Tagliamonte's book will launch students into the field ready to do important work." – William Labov, University of Pennsylvania

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