Sociolinguistics

Sociolinguistics, especially within North America tends to focus on describing language variation in terms of different rule systems, often of a specific speech community. Labov pioneered this work specifically as system approaches to both external and internal mechanisms affecting and motivating language change (Principles of Linguistic Change, 1994, 2001). The goal is emphasized towards local settings for language, which is essentially a complex system and can be understood through this to make thorough and scientific assessments of language data at hand. Sociolinguists often use interview data to describe language varieties, but it is important to realize that language data used in this way just creates an observational artifact, not a description that applies to language more widely. This is part of the complexity of language itself and why it is so complicated to work on. CS is well-suited to this task because speech does organize into ordered patterns that emerge in interactions. To retain the variation and describe it well, researchers can include all the possible options for a given language data item, whether it is pronunciation, different morphological or lexical variants, or other linguistic items of interest. “Sounds and words are not randomly distributed in speech interactions, but instead are associated in different ways with” specific local groups, social groups, or text types (Kretzschmar 2009).

 

 

 

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