Social Variation

or Fit Wye Div ye Ken I’m Nae a Judge?
  • Stuart C. Poole


‘Hello, it’s me again.’ It would be quite natural for a friend who is phoning you for a second time to say that. It would be less natural for him to say ‘Good morning, this is me once more.’ A judge talking to the Home Secretary, on the other hand, might consider it more appropriate to use the latter sentence. In these examples there is a difference of vocabulary (again, is less formal than once more,) and morphology (elision as in it’s, is more likely in informal speech). The informal style is more likely to be spoken with a regional pronunciation. What people say and how they say it varies in accordance with who they are, who they are speaking to and the context of the conversation. In Pygmalion, Henry Higgins says that it would take him three months to pass off Liza Doolittle with her ‘kerbstone English’ ‘as a duchess at an ambassador’s garden party’. Such variation forms part of the field of study of sociolinguistics.


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© Stuart C. Poole 1999

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  • Stuart C. Poole

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