Language Variation as Social Practice

Language Variation as Social Practice : The Linguistic Construction of Identity in Belten High

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This volume provides an ethnographically rich account of sociolinguistic variation in an adolescent population.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 260 pages
  • 161 x 231 x 14mm | 452g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0631186042
  • 9780631186045
  • 1,290,647

Back cover copy

Linguistic Variation as Social Practice is a study of the speech of the adolescent population of a midwestern high school, relating individuals' subtle patterns of pronunciation and grammar to participation in the peer social order.

Based on two years of sociolinguistic and ethnographic fieldwork in one school, supplemented by shorter periods of fieldwork in three other schools, the study focuses on the polarized social categories, the "jocks" and the "burnouts," that dominate social organization in all of these schools. This book describes the social categories, networks, and practices that constitute the local adolescent social order, relates these to wider patterns in the urban-suburban area, and ultimately to wider societal patterns.

Linguistic Variation as Social Practice is an ideal text for advanced students of sociolinguistics and anthropological linguistics.
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Table of contents

List of Figures. List of Tables. Preface. Introduction: Variation and Agency. Interpreting the Meaning of Variation. The Social Order of Belten High. Sociolinguistic Research in the School. The Vocalic Variables. Outline of Variation in Belten High. We Are What We Do. Friendships, Networks, and Communities of Practice. Style, Social Meaning, and Sound Change. References. Index.
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Review quote

"This long--awaited volume demonstrates that Eckert is the sociolinguist. No other student of language and society comes close to Eckert in providing social explanations for linguistic behavior and no other study has probed so deeply the social motivation of sound change. Eckerta s unique combination of ethnographic practice and sophisticated quantitative analyses will be the target to emulate for many decades to come." Bill Labov, University of Pennsylvania "Penelope Eckerta s work provides a fine ethnographic account of the social organization and social practices of a varied set of Detroit adolescents. At the same time, she builds in a much--needed critique of current sociolinguistic work on the relationship between language variation and social constructs such as class and gender. The work as a whole is an excellent and readable synthesis, representing the current state of the art in sociolinguistics." Lesley Milroy, University of Michigan "Nobody combines the insights of ethnographic study and variation analysis more creatively than Eckert. She invariably connects systematic language variation with the complexities of social practice in a way that challenges our reified interpretations of sociolinguistic behavior." Walt Wolfram, North Carolina State University "Eckert has provided us with an array of priceless information on the local social matrix in which change takes place. If we are not ready to answer every question that might be posed about linguistic change, the first step is to master the rich store of information and insight that she has given us, and to plan our future research with this in mind." Language in Society
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About Penelope Eckert

Penelope Eckert is Professor of Linguistics at Stanford University and Senior Research Scientist at the Institute for Research on Learning in Menlo Park, CA. She has also taught at the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the author of Jocks and Burnouts (1989), editor of New Ways of Analyzing Sound Change (1991), and co--editor of The Cornell Lectures: Women in the Linguistic Profession (1990).
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17 ratings
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2 6% (1)
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