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Ch. 8 Language Variation and Change
Transcript of Ch. 8 Language Variation and Change
Some Changes in Progress
Variation vs. Change
The Traditional View
The traditional view of language change is only interested in changes that have
for the language (p. 196)
The Process of Change
Types of change
Ch. 8 Language Variation and Change
"Forward, forward let us range,
Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change."
--Lord Alfred Tennyson
Why might sociolinguists be exclusively interested in those changes that bring about
Family tree vs. Wave model of change
Which of these are structural in nature?
they affect the language holistically
they can inform diachronic linguistics
with vs. wit vs. wif
-ing vs. -in
fists vs. fistes/ costs vs. costes
quick vs. quickly
What causes linguistic change?
Gravity model of diffusion: city to city; can leapfrog smaller communities
Geographical or political boundaries can promote or inhibit linguistic change
Is this age-grading (and not change)?
Real-time panel study: the same sample is tested at a later time (20-30 years later)
Real-time trend study: another sample is drawn from the same population at different times (20-30 years later)
If the behavior of the sample changed, this is age-grading; if not, we have real linguistic change
Agents of change
Trudgill (1972) showed that upper-middle working class men in Norwich use certain pronunciations (in this case, the non-standard, working class type) to express certain values
Change from below (i.e. internal)
Ripe for change
upward mobility available
Lexical diffusion (p. 218)
similar to the Wave model
How does linguistic change diffuse through time and space?
How is linguistic change maintained?
Labov (1981, p. 184): in general, lower middle class women, when in situations stratified by style and class, try to emulate those "better" than them
Gal (1978, 1979) showed that Hungarian-speaking women in Oberwart, Austria (a German-speaking community with a substantial Hungarian-speaking peasant community) prefer to marry German-speaking men
Holmquist (1985) showed the same with respect to Uciedan-speaking women in Cantabria, Spain and their preference for Castilian-speaking men
Cheshire (1978) showed that lower-class boys in Reading, England use more non-standard syntax than girls for reasons of identity and solidarity
however, this is limited to situations in which women can improve their status
the inverse was found in Iran and India
"what do individuals want and what will they accept or reject linguistically to satisfy these wants?" (W&F 2015, p. 211)
"Linguistic utterances or expressions are always produced in particular contexts or markets, and the properties of these markets endow linguistic products with 'value.' On a given linguistic market, some products are valued more highly than others; and part of the practical competence of speakers is to know how, and to be able, to produce expressions which are highly valued on the markets concerned." (Bourdieu 1991, p. 57)
Change from above (i.e. external)
unconscious, systematic and may involve issues of economy
conscious, sporadic and involves issues of prestige
(Milroy 1992, p. 9; Milroy & Milroy 1992): "groups linked internally mainly by relatively weak ties are susceptible to innovation"
more, but more shallow, social ties
Transmission of change
Diffusion of change
"the product of the acquisition of language by young children"
"the limitations of diffusion are the result of the fact that most language contact is largely between and among adults" (p. 349)
What do each of these models focus on?