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Intermediate language variation and change



This module explores the explanations for variation and change in human language.

  • What does your speech say about you?
  • How does culture shape the way you speak?
  • Do age, geography and/or social class make a difference?

In discussing these issues and examining empirical analyses of natural speech data conducted by key researchers in the field, you will learn basic concepts in the inter-relationship between language and society.

By the end of the module, you will have an insight into the most important driving forces behind language variation and change.



Students must have successfully completed:

  •  L10C Introduction to sociolinguistics (LAN00010C)

Information for visiting students: The teaching of this module assumes some knowledge of the causes and effects of linguistic variation and change and appropriate methods for undertaking research in these areas. If students have not studied sociolinguistics in their home institution, this course may not be appropriate.



Contact hours

Two hours per week.

Teaching programme

Classes will consist of lectures which cover the basic theoretical and methodological issues in language variation and change; and seminars which will facilitate discussions in which students will be encouraged to explore and develop their personal observations and intuitions about language use.

Teaching materials

  • Chambers, J. (2nd edition 2003) Sociolinguistic Theory: Linguistic Variation and its Social Significance (Oxford: Blackwell)
  • Chambers, J.K. & Schilling, Natalie (eds) (2nd edition 2013) Handbook of Language Variation and Change. (Oxford: Blackwell)
  • Llamas, C., Mullany, L. & Stockwell, P. (eds) (2007) The Routledge Companion to Sociolinguistics. (London: Routledge)
  • Milroy, L. and Gordon, M. (2003) Sociolinguistics: Method and Interpretation (Oxford: Blackwell)
  • Wardhaugh, R. (4th edition 2001) An Introduction to Sociolinguistics (Oxford: Blackwell)

Assessment and feedback

Assessment and feedback

Feedback on formative work

  • Immediate oral comments on seminar exercises
  • Oral and written comments on group presentations, given within a week of the presentation

Summative assessment and feedback

  • Essay
    • Due: Spring Term, Week 10
    • Weight: 30%
    • Length: 1500 words
  • Two-hour closed examination
    • Summer Term, Weeks 5-7
    • Weight: 70%
    • Feedback: mark on university scale by Monday of Week 9, term three, and subsequent access to script and written comments on it at an appointed time.

About this module

  • Module name
    Intermediate language variation and change
  • Course code
    L10I (LAN00010I)
  • Teacher
    Paul Kerswill
  • Term taught
  • Credits