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The Sociolinguistics of the Metropolis

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slide1

The Sociolinguistics

of the Metropolis

slide2

It is a well-known fact that small cities are friendlier than big ones. But are they? Our research on street life indicates that, if anything, the reverse is more likely to be the case. As far as interaction between people is concerned, there is markedly more of it in big cities--not just in absolute numbers but as a proportion of the total. In small cities, by contrast, you see fewer interchanges, fewer prolonged goodbyes, fewer street conferences, fewer 100% conversations. . . Individually, the friendliness quotient of the smaller might be much higher. It could also be argued that friendships run deeper in a smaller city than in a larger one. As far as frequency of interchange is concenrned, however,the streets of the big city are notably more sociable than those of a smaller one.

--William H. Whyte, City. NY: Doubleday, 1988, p. 6.

slide3

The speech community as

• chaos

“one cannot predict what a person will say”

• a fictional construct

“the reality is the individual speaker”

• an average value

“merely the average of individual idiolects”

slide4

Ten methods for gathering linguistic data in the metropolis

Approach to Demogr. Volume Sound Control of

Vernacular inform’n of speech quality variables

Sociolinguistic interview Variable Excellent Excellent Excellent Variable

Group sessions Excellent Variable Variable Fair Poor

Participant observation Excellent Excellent Excellent NoneNone

Site studies Good Poor Variable PoorNone

Rapid & anonymous surveys Poor Poor PoorNone Excellent

Written texts PoorVariable VariableNoneNone

Studies of mass media PoorPoorVariable Excellent None

Laboratory experiments Poor Excellent Variable Excellent Excellent

Direct elicitation Poor Excellent Fair Excellent Excellent

Introspection Poor Excellent None None Excellent

slide5

Ten methods for gathering linguistic data in the metropolis

Approach to Demogr. Volume Sound Control of

Vernacular inform’n of speech quality variables

Sociolinguistic interview Variable Excellent Excellent Excellent Variable

Group sessions Excellent Variable Variable Fair Poor

Participant observation Excellent Excellent Excellent NoneNone

Site studies Good Poor Variable PoorNone

Rapid & anonymous surveys Poor Poor PoorNone Excellent

Written texts PoorVariable VariableNoneNone

Studies of mass media PoorPoorVariable Excellent None

Laboratory experiments Poor Excellent Variable Excellent Excellent

Direct elicitation Poor Excellent Fair Excellent Excellent

Introspection Poor Excellent None None Excellent

slide6

Percent [r] in rapid and anonymous study of three New York City department stores, 1962

Source: Labov 1966

slide7

Percent [r] in rapid and anonymous study of three New York City department stores, 1962 and 1986

Source: Labov 1966, Fowler 1986

slide9

Percent [r] in by age in Saks, 1962 and 1986

Source: Labov 1966, Fowler 1986

slide15

Overall increase in percent [r] from 1962 to 1996

Tiernan 1996

Fowler 1986

Labov 1962

Source: Labov 1966, Fowler 1986, Tiernan 1996

slide16

Social and stylistic stratification of (r) in the random sample of the Lower East Side of New York City [N=81]

SOCIO-ECONOMICCLASS

higher

The cross-over pattern

lower

slide17

The introduction of constricted /r/ by upper middle class youth in the spontaneous speech of the Lower East Side sample of New York City [N=81]

slide20

The metropolis: a speech community with a high degree of social stratification on a uniform structural and evaluative base

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