Situated Approaches to Language Variation

Instructor(s): Norma Mendoza-Denton and Miriam Meyerhoff

All language use is situated with respect to a particular speaker, time, place, and purpose. However, researchers differ in how they characterize the situated quality of language. This course acknowledges the significance of both "variationist" and "constructionist" approaches to sociolinguistic variation, and seeks to move beyond static oppositions between these approaches.

We will consider what it means for variation to be "situated" from three perspectives:

  • historical situatedness (e.g. the likely directions of future change, and also historical constraints on what is possible now);
  • social situatedness (e.g. understanding how larger social categories emerge from tokens of variation occurring in intimate interaction); and
  • embodied situatedness (e.g. the role of co-occurring practices such as gesture).

Workshops and lectures explore the potential for synthesizing these, adopting a fresh approach to variation that emphasizes the functional and interactional constraints on variation in terms of frequency, recency, exposure, salience and agency.

Previous coursework in sociolinguistics will be assumed.

Course ID:

Mon & Thu 10:30-12:15

Classroom: MUEN E 432

Areas of Linguistics:
Sociolinguistics and Anthropological