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Sociology + Linguistics= Sociolinguistics. Linguistic Variation Variationsim. Sociophonetics. Sociolinguistics. Phonetics. Phonetics. Phonology. Greek=production of speech & sound by humans. Study of organization of sounds in human speech.

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Sociology + Linguistics= Sociolinguistics

Linguistic Variation







Greek=production of speech

& sound by humans

Study of organization of sounds in human speech

sounds (phones): their physiological production, acoustic properties, auditory perception, and neurophysiological status.

Phonology encompasses characteristics of sounds and the rules which regulate their interaction

In human languages aside from phonology, other parts also are present, such as morphology, syntax, and pragmatics.

physical properties of speech:

Phones (sound ‘unit’), study of acoustic , neurophysiological, and auditory perceptional characteristics

  • Sociophonetics = phonetics + sociolinguistics
  • Sociolinguistics = language + social groups
    • Social stratification of language (social dialects)
    • Regional dialects
    • Identity
    • Perceptual dialectology (what do non-linguists think?)
one more
One more…
  • Variationism =
    • Branch of sociolinguistics dedicated to the study of linguistic variation
      • ‘free variation’ is the ‘f’ word!
    • Qualitative + quantitative methods
      • Ethnography—understand the social stuff
      • Multivariate statistics—relate use of lx variants to social structure, ideologies, lg style, etc.
central tenet
Central tenet
  • ‘structured heterogeneity’
    • language contains systematic variation which can be characterized and explained by patterns of social differentiation within speech communities.
variable rule
Variable Rule
  • Variable rule
  • Change that happens sometimes
  • Lx conditions may encourage or hinder rule application
  • Social factors may encourage or hinder rule application

Phonological rule

  • Describes a sound change that takes place in a particular linguistic environment
basic methods
Basic Methods

1. Identify linguistic feature(s) that vary

2. Sample the community.

  • Get data—interview with reading; rapid and anonymous, etc.

4. Count occurrences AND non-occurrences of the variable.

  • Code for linguistic factors.
  • Select meaningful social units.
  • Find statistical correlations between occurrence of the variable and social units (age, class, etc.)
  • Describe observed patterns.
what is a variable
What is a variable?
  • Two ways of saying the same thing.
  • Phonological: -ing vs. –in; -r vs. Ø

‘regular’ short /a/ vs. raised /a/

  • Morphosyntactic: who vs. that vs. Ø
  • Discourse: verbs of quotation
    • Say, be like, go, etc.
coding for linguistic factors
Coding for linguistic factors
  • What linguistic contexts govern use of this variable?
    • Preceding sound
    • Following sound
    • Syllable position
    • Linguistic function or meaning
what social factors are important
What social factors are important?
  • Depends on the community!
  • Use ethnography to figure this out
    • Observe interaction, make hypotheses
    • Test hypotheses, ask community members
  • See what other people have used for the same community
  • Start with the classics—age, sex, race, class
    • Experiment: jocks and burnouts vs. MC and WC
    • Consider identity and ideology
statistical analysis
Statistical analysis
  • Count up the variables and analyze statistically
  • The type of data you have dictates what statistical tests you can use
labov s original study of martha s vineyard
Labov’s original study of Martha’s Vineyard
  • Impressionistic coding of /ay/ and /aw/
  • Nucleus centralized to /əy/ /əw/

Change most advanced in:

Middle-aged fisherman from Chilmark

‘positive orientation’ to island

anti- ‘summer people’

today on martha s vineyard
Today on Martha’s Vineyard
  • Centralization of /ay/ and /aw/ has been reversed
  • Long-time residents recognize that they depend economically on new residents and tourists
    • opposition to cooperation
  • Long-time residents going back to mainland pronunciations of these diphthongs
  • Josey 2004, Blake and Josey 2003
limitations of blake josey
Limitations of Blake & Josey
  • Small, limited sample (16 males)
  • Only one variable studied
labov r in new york city
Labov: /r/ in New York City
  • After World War II, pronunciation of post-vocalic /r/ introduced as a prestige form
    • Ex. /kard/ instead of /ka:d/ for ‘card’
    • /fowr/ instead of /fowə/ for ‘four’
  • Change from above—begins above the level of consciousness, found more frequently in careful speech
r in casual speech of new yorkers
/r/ in casual speech of New Yorkers

Interview data collected in the 1960s shows:

  • 0% /r/ in casual speech of lower class, working class, lower middle class
  • 20% /r/ in casual speech of upper middle class
  • 40% /r/ in casual speech of upper middle class 20-somethings
the department store study
The Department Store Study
  • Designed to investigate use of /r/ in careful speech of a socially stratified sample of New Yorkers
  • Innovative because of the rapid and anonymous survey
  • Rapid and anonymous survey
    • 2 repetitions of ‘fourth floor’
  • Three stores:
    • Saks 5th Avenue (upper middle class)
    • Macy’s (lower middle class)
    • Klein (working class)
  • Three occupations:
    • Floorwalkers, sales clerks, sweepers
  • Other variables: age, sex, race, unusual accent, floor within the store
distribution by age
Distribution by age
  • It’s not random!
  • Youngest members of UMC use /r/ in casual as well as careful speech as new prestige norm
  • Members of LMC and WC one generation ahead pick up the youngsters’ use of /r/; in careful speech, approaches rate of UMC /r/
  • In the word list style, LMC “hypercorrects”—uses higher rate of /r/ than the UMC
  • Fine phonetic detail can serve as important markers of social identity
    • Even when not salient for speakers
  • Phonetics + sociolinguistics + statistics
next time
Next time
  • Last quiz!!
  • Prosody in Spanish-English bilingual discourse
  • Gender and sexual orientation issues