The Quantitative study of Sociolinguistic Variation

Penelope Eckert

Variation is both a mechanism for the spread of linguistic change, and a robust social semiotic system. This seminar will trace the development of variation studies from the foundational community studies that established replicable macro-sociological correlations, to the study of the semiotic use of variation in moment-to-moment stylistic practice, in what I term three waves1 of variation study. The focus will be on the integration of the macro- and the micro-patterns, and the integration of variation into a broader theory of language. The materials will be primarily corpus studies of English and to some extent Canadian French, as these are the languages that have figured in theory development in variation.

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