Principles of Linguistic Change, Volume 3

Language in Society

Book 36
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Written by the world-renowned pioneer in the field of modern sociolinguistics, this volume examines the cognitive and cultural factors responsible for linguistic change, tracing the life history of these developments, from triggering events to driving forces and endpoints.
  • Explores the major insights obtained by combining sociolinguistics with the results of dialect geography on a large scale
  • Examines the cognitive and cultural influences responsible for linguistic change
  • Demonstrates under what conditions dialects diverge from one another
  • Establishes an essential distinction between transmission within the community and diffusion across communities
  • Completes Labov’s seminal Principles of Linguistic Change trilogy
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About the author

William Labov is Professor of Linguistics and Director of the Linguistics Laboratory, University of Pennsylvania. His major studies include The Social Stratification of English in New York City (1966), Sociolinguistic Patterns (1972), Language in the Inner City (1972), Principles of Linguistic Change: Internal Factors (Wiley-Blackwell, 1994) and Principles of Linguistic Change, Volume 2: Social Factors (Wiley-Blackwell, 2001). With S. Ash and C. Boberg, he published the Atlas of North American English in 2006.
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Additional Information

John Wiley & Sons
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Published on
Jul 5, 2011
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Language Arts & Disciplines / General
Language Arts & Disciplines / Linguistics / Sociolinguistics
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Popular assumptions about gender and communication - famously summed up in the title of the massively influential 1992 bestseller Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus - can have unforeseen but far-reaching consequences in many spheres of life, from attitudes to the phenomenon of 'date-rape' to expectations of achievement at school, and potential discrimination in the work-place. In this wide-ranging and thoroughly readable book, Deborah Cameron, Rupert Murdoch Professor of Language and Communication at Oxford University and author of a number of leading texts in the field of language and gender studies, draws on over 30 years of scientific research to explain what we really know and to demonstrate how this is often very different from the accounts we are familiar with from recent popular writing. Ambitious in scope and exceptionally accessible, The Myth of Mars and Venus tells it like it is: widely accepted attitudes from the past and from other cultures are at heart related to assumptions about language and the place of men and women in society; and there is as much similarity and variation within each gender as between men and women, often associated with social roles and relationships. The author goes on to consider the influence of Darwinian theories of natural selection and the notion that girls and boys are socialized during childhood into different ways of using language, before addressing problems of 'miscommunication' surrounding, for example, sex and consent to sex, and women's relative lack of success in work and politics. Arguing that what linguistic differences there are between men and women are driven by the need to construct and project personal meaning and identity, Cameron concludes that we have an urgent need to think about gender in more complex ways than the prevailing myths and stereotypes allow. A compelling and insightful read for anyone with an interest in communication, language, and the sexes.
The sociolinguist William Labov has worked for decades on change in progress in American dialects and on African American Vernacular English (AAVE). In Dialect Diversity in America, Labov examines the diversity among American dialects and presents the counterintuitive finding that geographically localized dialects of North American English are increasingly diverging from one another over time.

Contrary to the general expectation that mass culture would diminish regional differences, the dialects of Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Birmingham, Buffalo, Philadelphia, and New York are now more different from each other than they were a hundred years ago. Equally significant is Labov's finding that AAVE does not map with the geography and timing of changes in other dialects. The home dialect of most African American speakers has developed a grammar that is more and more different from that of the white mainstream dialects in the major cities studied and yet highly homogeneous throughout the United States.

Labov describes the political forces that drive these ongoing changes, as well as the political consequences in public debate. The author also considers the recent geographical reversal of political parties in the Blue States and the Red States and the parallels between dialect differences and the results of recent presidential elections. Finally, in attempting to account for the history and geography of linguistic change among whites, Labov highlights fascinating correlations between patterns of linguistic divergence and the politics of race and slavery, going back to the antebellum United States. Complemented by an online collection of audio files that illustrate key dialectical nuances, Dialect Diversity in America offers an unparalleled sociolinguistic study from a preeminent scholar in the field.

The Atlas of North American English provides the first overall view of the pronunciation and vowel systems of the dialects of the U.S. and Canada. The Atlas re-defines the regional dialects of American English on the basis of sound changes active in the 1990s and draws new boundaries reflecting those changes. It is based on a telephone survey of 762 local speakers, representing all the urbanized areas of North America. It has been developed by Bill Labov, one of the leading sociolinguists of the world, together with his colleagues Sharon Ash and Charles Boberg.

The Atlas consists of a printed volume accompanied by an interactive CD-ROM. The print and multimedia content is also available online.

Combined Edition: Book and Multimedia CD-ROM

The book contains

23 chapters that re-define the geographic boundaries of North American dialects and trace the influence of gender, age, education, and city size on the progress of sound change; findings that show a dramatic and increasing divergence of English in North America; 139 four color maps that illustrate the regional distribution of phonological and phonetic variables across the North American continent; 120 four color vowel charts of individual speakers.

The multimedia CD-ROM supplements the articles and maps by providing

a data base with measurements of more than 100,000 vowels and mean values for 439 speakers; the Plotnik program for mapping each of the individual vowel systems; extended sound samples of all North American dialects; multimedia applications to enhance classroom presentations.

Online Version: Book and CD-ROM content plus additional data

The online version comprises the contents of the book and the multimedia CD-ROM along with additional data. It

presents a wider selection of data, maps, and audio samples that will be recurrently updated; proffers simultaneous access to the information contained in the book and on the multimedia CD-ROM to all users in the university/library network; provides students with easy access to research material for classroom assignments.

For more information, please contact Mouton de Gruyter:

System Requirements for CD-ROM and Online Version

Windows PC: Pentium PC, Windows 9x, NT, or XP, at least 16MB RAM, CD-ROM Drive, 16 Bit Soundcard, SVGA (600 x 800 resolution)

Apple MAC: OS 6 or higher, 16 Bit Soundcard, at least 16MB RAM

Supported Browsers: Internet Explorer, 5.5 or 6 (Mac OS: Internet Explorer 5.1)/Netscape 7.x or higher/Mozilla 1.0 or higher/Mozilla Firefox 1.0 or higher

PlugIns: Macromedia Flash Player 6/Acrobat Reader

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