Chapter published in:Historical Linguistics 2015: Selected papers from the 22nd International Conference on Historical Linguistics, Naples, 27-31 July 2015
Edited by Michela Cennamo and Claudia Fabrizio
[Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 348] 2019
► pp. 594–613
Roots and branches of variation across dialects of English
In this chapter, I outline the Variationist Sociolinguistic approach and how it can probe questions of relevance to historical linguistics. Analysis of spoken language corpora from three geographic regions, the United Kingdom (UK), Canada and the Caribbean are the basis of investigation. The communities comprise a range of relic, rural and urban contexts as well as source and off shoot situations. Taken together they offer multiple tests for asking questions of historical origins, transmission and diffusion, obsolescence and innovation.The findings combine to show that that synchronic data contribute a great deal to understanding the mechanisms that constrain processes of linguistic change in time and space. Further, I argue that a large scale multi-variety perspective is critical for making sound use of the dialectic between diachronic change and synchronic variation.
Keywords: variationist sociolinguistics, language variation and change, English dialects, comparative sociolinguistics, quantitative methods
Published online: 10 September 2019
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