Analysing Sociolinguistic Variation

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Cambridge University Press, May 11, 2006 - Language Arts & Disciplines
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The study of how language varies in social context, and how it can be analyzed and accounted for, are the key goals of sociolinguistics. Until now, however, the actual tools and methods have been largely passed on through 'word of mouth', rather than being formally documented. This is the first comprehensive 'how to' guide to the formal analysis of sociolinguistic variation. It shows step-by-step how the analysis is carried out, leading the reader through every stage of a research project from start to finish. Topics covered include fieldwork, data organization and management, analysis and interpretation, presenting research results, and writing up a paper. Practical and informal, the book contains all the information needed to conduct a fully-fledged sociolinguistic investigation, and includes exercises, checklists, references and insider tips. It is set to become an essential resource for students, researchers and fieldworkers embarking on research projects in sociolinguistics.

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Introduction 1
The sociolinguistic interview
Data data and more data
The linguistic variable
Formulating hypothesesoperationalising claims
theory and practice
The howtos of a variationist analysis
Distributional analysis
Multivariate analysis
Interpreting your results
Finding the story
Glossary of terms

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Page 6 - The key to a rational conception of language change - indeed, of language itself is the possibility of describing orderly differentiation in a language serving a community. We will argue that nativelike command of heterogeneous structures is not a matter of multi-dialectalism or 'mere' performance, but is part of unilingual linguistic competence.
Page 5 - Linguistic and social factors are closely interrelated in the development of language change. Explanations which are confined to one or the other aspect, no matter how well constructed, will fail to account for the rich body of regularities that can be observed in empirical studies of language behavior...
Page 12 - wherever a choice can be perceived as having been made in the course of linguistic performance" (Sankoff 1998: 151; cf. Halliday 1991 for an overview of probabilistic grammar in corpus studies). In short, it will be the present study's job to quantify, probabilistically, how persistence impacts choice making in linguistic performance. 1.1. Dependent variables...
Page 8 - vernacular' - the style in which the minimum attention is given to the monitoring of speech. Observation of the vernacular gives us the most systematic data for our analysis of linguistic structure.
Page 7 - At the same time, however, the speaker is using language to make statements about who she is, what her group loyalties are, how she perceives her relationship to her hearer, and what sort of speech event she considers herself to be engaged in.
Page 4 - The present paper is based on the observation that structural theories of language, so fruitful in synchronic investigation, have saddled historical linguistics with a cluster of paradoxes which have not been fully overcome

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About the author (2006)

Sali Tagliamonte is Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Toronto.

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