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  • Print publication year: 2000
  • Online publication date: March 2008

6 - REGIONAL AND SOCIAL VARIATION

Summary
The Early Modern English period was decisive for the modern definition of the status of the newly emerging standard language. A great number of social, regional and stylistic factors combine when it comes to deciding about prestige and correctness, and about the appropriateness of specific forms of language in a given situation. Modern sociolinguistic studies have shown that social variables like age, sex, religion, social status and occupation are relevant for linguistic stratification, and also for how they correlate with statistical probabilities of occurrence in individual speech communities or groups. However, it is also evident that social factors and their relative importance are subject to change, at least as much as the linguistic variables and their available variants are. Moreover, modern sociolinguistics has also shown that factors that speakers are unaware of are frequently as crucial as those that are conspicuous, and that there may be combinations of determinants that are relevant where the individual categories are not.
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The Cambridge History of the English Language
  • Online ISBN: 9781139053747
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521264761
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