Stylistic variation: variation in the speech of individual speakers

 

Last week

 

 

This week

 

Class tonight corresponds to only a few sections from Crystal (407, 410, 416, 422)

 

Building from

 

Q: In what contexts are you aware of varying your language?

 

Q: Variation often depends on social norms rather than individual choice. Ex?

 

Q: What linguistic features are you aware of varying when you use

 

People’s language can also vary in correlation with other variables, e.g. age, sex, socioeconomic status

·        we’re often less aware of that

 

People are more aware of some variants than others

 

Examples from Canada of age-linked variation

 

Examples from elsewhere of salient variants

 

In the 1960s, a pioneering sociolinguist was curious about postvocalic /r/ in NY English (park, car)

 

Method: somehow correlate frequency of /r/ with different factors

 

Age, sex are easy to determine! But how do you determine somebody’s socioeconomic status efficiently?

 

How do you elicit casual / careful speech?

 

After the study, Labov made general conclusions about socioeconomic status and language

 

Labov’s general observations about attention and language

 

Problems with assuming that all speakers always aim at prestige varieties

 

Problems w/ preimposed social categories

 

Later sociolinguistic methods have included looking at

 

Different settings have different kinds of linguistic variation

 

Style-shifting is more pronounced in cultures where a regional variety of English has developed and coexists with standard English

 

There are terms to describe variation between regional variety and the ‘standard’

 

Ability/flexibility to shift dependent upon level of education

 

Style-shifting along the continuum can reflect

 

Individual variation can also reflect combination of other factors

 

Literary text from last week, Dabydeen’s “Slave Song”

 

What might be said about Dabydeen’s display of his roles as poet, translator, critic in “Slave Song”?

 

Some implications of speaker design model

 

Not simple

 

Agard, “Listen Mr Oxford Don” a good example of style shifting for divergence

 

Rhyme scheme shows non-standard prosody

 

[stress timing: the constant amount of time (on average) is between two consecutive stressed syllables: e.g. “two consecutive stressed syllables.”]

 

Graphological deviance emphasizes other non-standard pronunciation

 


Speaker design

 

Even the use of standard English can be strategic

 

David Dabydeen’s poem sequence Turner

 

Sonnet XXIV is the penultimate poem


Dabydeen’s Turner

 

Some other sources:

 

Schilling-Estes, Natalie. “Investigating stylistic variation.” The handbook of language variation and change. Ed. J.K. Chambers et al. Blackwell, 2002.

 

Wright, Susan. “Accents of English.” English: history, diversity, change. Ed. David Graddol et al. Routledge, 1996