Sociolinguistic variation regards to the research of how languagediffers and alters in societies of speakers (Britain 1). It focusesin specific on the association of social aspects and linguisticsystems. These aspects include the gender, race, age, and speaker’slevel of integration into society. Linguistic systems comprise ofsounds, words, intonation features and grammar forms (Britain 2015,p.1). The paper aims at demonstrating how sociolinguists studyvariations.
Studying sociolinguistics variation is categorized as includingthree main facets. These are “linguistic or internal constraints,social or inter-speaker constraints, and stylistic or intra-speakerconstraints” (Eckert 2001, p.1). Languages differ from region,social setting and situations. Sociolinguists suppose that languageprevails in context, which relies on the speaker employing thelanguage, where it is used and why. Speakers create their personalhistory as well as identity in speech and their “economic,sociocultural and geographic coordinates in time and space”(Tagliamonte 2006, p.3). Some researchers presume that because speechis apparently social, studying it by not referring to society issimilar to the study of courtship by not relating the conduct of onepartner to the other (Tagliamonte 2006, p.3). Once individuals beginstudying language, it becomes apparent that it comprises numerousinconsistencies. At times different individuals within a group ofspeakers employ the same pronunciation for a phrase, and at times,they employ a different word without altering the meaning. In someinstances, speakers employ diverse word orders without the disparityresulting in any substantive difference to the sentence meaning(Meyerhoff 2006, p.2). Frequently, the same individual mightinterchange amid diverse pronunciations of a phrase. Such variationis essential to linguistics.
Sociolinguists study variations using various methods. One is thequantitative method. It is founded on “the observation thatspeakers make choices when they use language and that these choicesare discrete alternatives with the same referential value orgrammatical function” (Tagliamonte 2006, p.12). In addition, thesechoices differ in a systematic manner and as such, they can bemodeled quantitatively. Quantitative research is about finding socialmeaning (Eckert 2012, p. 87). The benefit of the quantitative methodderives from its capability to form the simultaneous,multi-dimensional aspects that influence speaker choices, to detecteven slight grammatical tendencies as well as regularities in theinformation, as well as to evaluate their comparative strength andrelevance (Tagliamonte 2006, p.12). The measures avail the foundationfor comparative linguistic study. However, such intricate methods aremerely as perfect as the analytic processes on which they are formed.The eventual objective of a qualitative research involves identifyingas well as explaining linguistic phenomena.
To ensure that a quantitative research of variation producesreliable outcomes, researchers normally require drawing on rathermajor corpora of unstructured as well as natural data (Meyerhoff n.d,p.4-5). Speakers might be rather uninformed of variation in theirspeech hence, it is not relevant to ask them to offer grammaticalityjudgments of the type where they take or refute sentences or phrasescreated in made-up contexts. Additionally, the sequences, whichunderlie the change, might be much understated. Thus, it might beimprobable for even highly instructed descriptive linguistics torecognize what social or linguistic aspects play a statisticallyrelevant function. The more aspects that the linguist aims atexploring, the more information they require in conducting theirresearch. This is since the common quantitative examinations usuallyneed close to 20 tokens to result in dependable outcomes. When thereare numerous social as well as linguistic aspects to examine, and itis mandated to have 20 tokens for each probable combination of theaspects, the researcher ought to begin with a big figure of tokensgenerally (Meyerhoff n.d, p.5).
The normal technique employed in satisfying the requirement fornatural, unstructured speech and numerous tokens is sociolinguisticinterview. It entails various hours of speech for each speaker. Theinterviewer attempts to motivate casual speech through discussingissues like childhood reminiscences as well as games, and individualanecdotes of harmful, religious or supernatural experiences that thespeaker might have had (Meyerhoff n.d, p.5). By luck, during anextended interview, the interviewee might get to communicate to adifferent individual and not the interviewer. The communication ispresumed to capture naturalistic speech. The interview could stand onits own or be complemented using three extra verbal roles. These veryfrequently involve reading a prose passage loudly, and reading of aphrase list. Sociolinguistics realize that the three reading tasksdiffer qualitatively from unstructured speech, though numerousstudies have demonstrated that they are a perfect manner ofprogressively enhancing the relative concentration an intervieweemight pay to the speech. To this extreme, they appear to be a propermanner of replicating speech disparities that are attributable toenhancing formality of technique (Meyerhoff n.d, p.5).
The descriptive interpretive strategy is another manner of studyingvariations. It enables the sociolinguist to become immersed in thespeech society and focus on minimizing the impacts of their personalfunction as an expert of the language being studies. The studyresults in rational, explicit as well as convincing critiques onclass, race and different based language ideologies (Newmeyer 1988,p.144).
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Eckert, Penelope. Three waves ofvariation study: The emergence of meaning in the study of sociolinguistic variation. AnnualReview of Anthropology 41(2012): 87-100.
Eckert, Penelope. Styleand Sociolinguistic Variation.Cambridge: Cambridge UniversityPress, 2001.Print.
Meyerhoff, Miriam. SociolinguisticVariation and Change. Encyclopediaof Life Support Systems,(n.d): 1-8. <http://www.eolss.net/sample-chapters/c04/e6-91-06-01.pdf>
Newmeyer, Frederick J. Linguistics,the Cambridge Survey.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1988. Print.
Tagliamonte, Sali. AnalysingSociolinguistic Variation.Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press,2006. Internet resource.