The study of how language varies in social context, and how it can be analyzed and accounted for, are the key goals of sociolinguistics. Until now, however, the actual tools and methods have been largely passed on through 'word of mouth', rather than being formally documented. This is the first comprehensive 'how to' guide to the formal analysis of sociolinguistic variation. It shows step-by-step how the analysis is carried out, leading the reader through every stage of a research project from start to finish. Topics covered include fieldwork, data organization and management, analysis and interpretation, presenting research results, and writing up a paper. Practical and informal, the book contains all the information needed to conduct a fully-fledged sociolinguistic investigation, and includes exercises, checklists, references and insider tips. It is set to become an essential resource for students, researchers and fieldworkers embarking on research projects in sociolinguistics.
1. Introduction; 2. Data collection; 3. The sociolinguistic interview; 4. Data, data and more data; 5. The linguistic variable; 6. Formulating hypothesis/operationalizing claims; 7. The variable rule program: theory and practice; 8. The 'how to's of a variationist analysis; 9. Distributional analysis; 10. Multivariate analysis; 11. Interpreting your results; 12. Finding the story.
"I cannot speak authoritatively for the field of sociolinguistics, but I have seen little comparable elsewhere in linguistics wrapped up into one single book--conducting students through an entire research project from beginning to end and relating individual steps in the use of a statistical/mathematical tool to concrete linguistic phenomena and linguistic theory. This book will be a must in advanced sociolinguistic courses, and certainly a must for any sociolinguist studying variation. Further, any graduate student in linguistics or field lingiust wanting to know how to design, conduct, and present a research project will profit by studying this book." - Terry Malone, SIL Electronic Book Reviews 2007-08