When your social class affiliation changes…

Here is an interesting paper Labov wrote around the time that Social Stratification of English in New York City was written. However, as far as I know, the topic itself was only passingly addressed in the actual SSENYC itself. It would be picked up again later in the Philadelphia study (field work 1973-1977), and plays an important part in Labov’s discussion of the Linguistic Leaders of Change in Vol 2 of the Principles of Linguistic Change series (2001). Yet here, his treatment of the topic is somewhat different, and raises some questions I feel haven’t been answered since but are quite relevant to today’s research agenda in the field. Especially given the recent growing interest in returning to studies focusing on social class in a robust way for the first time since the 1980s.

Labov, William. 1966. The effect of social mobility on linguistic behavior. Sociological Inquiry, 36.2:186-203.  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1475-682X.1966.tb00624.x/abstract


About daviddurian
I am a sociolinguist with a Ph D in Linguistics from The Ohio State University and an MA in Rhetoric and Professional Writing from Northern Illinois University. Currently, I work as the Lecturer at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, where I teach undergraduate courses in sociolinguistics, general linguistics, and first-year composition. I also work on research projects investigating variation and change in the vowel system of modern US English as it is spoken by Americans living in a variety of cities. At the moment, this includes Chicago, IL, Columbus, OH, and Eastern Pennsylvania.

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