This module builds on the first-year and second-year sociolinguistics content to introduce you to a range of advanced topics in the field of language variation and change. The topics can change from year to year, but there is usually a focus on language and dialect contact (how is the way you speak determined by the people you come into contact with?), plasticity and lifespan change (in what ways do we modify our accents depending on short- and long-term changes in our social situations?) and methods in dialectology (how has the study of dialectology developed over the years, and what insights can be gained from modern methods?).
With respect to prerequisites the following modules are equivalent:
Second year modules
Intermediate Language Variation and Change, Sociolinguistics
|Semester 2 2024-25
The module demonstrates how a sociolinguistic approach can benefit our understanding of language change. It emphasises language contact, dialect contact, demography and social structure. There is a focus on the critical analysis of advanced case studies in a number of areas of language variation and change, and there are opportunities to develop skills in data analysis and the option to put those into practice for a small-scale research project.
By the end of this module, you will be able to:
demonstrate knowledge and understanding of qualitative and quantitative approaches in the domains of language contact, dialect contact, and sociolinguistic models of change
give a critical account of linguistic phenomena arising from contact, describing and contrasting them based on data contained in published articles.
show an understanding of the problem of language change from several standpoints, including change derived from contact, the transmission of language from adults to children, and change within individuals during adulthood
perform analysis on sociolinguistic datasets of natural language use, including appropriate basic statistical techniques and the interpretation of results
show awareness of how methods in the study of dialectology have developed over the years, and of the various strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to the study of regional variation
The exact topics covered in this module sometimes differ from year to year, but here are some indicative topics that are often covered:
Internal/external motivations for language change
The role of contact in language change
How changes move through time and space
Methods in dialectology
Plasticity and lifespan change
|% of module mark
1000 word Data analysis report
3000 Word Essay
|% of module mark
Written feedback will be provided within 25 days of submission. For the formative assignment, feedback may be a combination of written feedback returned via email and oral feedback during the essay-writing workshop seminars in Week 11.
Hazen, Kirk (2011). Labov: Variation and change. In Wodak, Ruth, Johnstone, Barbara & Kerswill, Paul. SAGE handbook of sociolinguistics. London: Sage. 24–39.
Kerswill, Paul (2004). Social dialectology. In Klaus Mattheier, Ulrich Ammon & Peter Trudgill (eds.) Sociolinguistics/Soziolinguistik. An international handbook of the science of language and society, 2nd edn., Vol 1. Berlin: De Gruyter. 22–33.
Tagliamonte, Sali (2011). Variationist sociolinguistics: Change, observation, interpretation. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. [Chapter 2, but especially pp. 25–38].