Labov: Systemic Variation and Knowledge
- 10 Downloads
As is made clear in previous chapters, both Bloomfieldian structural linguistics and Chomskyan generative grammar restrict the main object of linguistic study to either the hierarchical grammar or the linguistic device in the individual’s brain; other issues concerning language and language use are in turn dismissed as the remainder, the ghost, the noise, or the trash bin (Lecercle, 2002, p. 66). Against this backdrop, the founding father of sociolinguistics, William Labov can be seen to have made the first effort to investigate the ‘noise’ ignored by mainstream linguistics, that is, linguistic variation. His study of linguistic variation extends the Saussurean system into the field of ‘parole’ by mapping out the systematic correlations between linguistic features and social factors. One may read his work as an important attempt in linguistics to reconnect the system with the ‘outside’ noise. However, based on detailed analysis of his studies, in what follows I will argue that his theory is crippled by a problematic understanding of the individual speaker.
- Bally, C. (1905). Précis de stylistique: Esquisse d’une méthode fondée sur l’étude du français modern. Geneva, Switzerland: A. Eggiman.Google Scholar
- Bally, C. (1951). Traité de stylistique française (2nd ed.). Paris: Klincksieck. (Original work published 1909)Google Scholar
- Fasold, R. W. (1978). Language variation and linguistic competence. In D. Sankoff (Ed.), Linguistic variation: Models and methods (pp. 85–95). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Feyerabend, P. (1993). Against method. London: Verso.Google Scholar
- Harris, R. (2012). Integrating reality. Gamlingay, England: Bright Pen.Google Scholar
- Labov, W. (1969). The study of nonstandard English. Washington, DC: National Council of Teachers of English.Google Scholar
- Labov, W. (1972). Sociolinguistic patterns. Pennsylvania, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
- Labov, W. (1997). How I got into linguistics, and what I got out of it. Cogprints. Retrieved May 22, 2019, from http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~wlabov/Papers/HowIgot.html.
- Prideaux, G. D. (1999). God’s truth’ and sturcturalism: A new look at an old controversy. In S. Embleton, J. E. Joseph, & H. Niederehe (Eds.), The emergence of the modern language sciences. Amsterdam, Netherlands: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
- Weinreich, U., Labov, W., & Herzog, M. I. (1968). Empirical foundations for a theory of language change. In W. P. Lehmann & Y. Malkiel (Eds.), Directions for historical linguistics: A symposium. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar