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LIN 1340 Study Guide - Final Guide: Ethnolinguistics, Considered Dead, Grammaticalization


Department
Linguistics
Course Code
LIN 1340
Professor
Stephen Levey
Study Guide
Final

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LIN1340
Important Definitions
1. According to the principle of accountability, it is important to look at where a variant can
occur and also where it could have occurred but didn’t.
The difference between a Variable, Variants & Variety
a. Variable: An abstract system (reporting what somebody said [quotatives])
b. Variants: The concrete ways in the system (BE LIKE, “Say”, “Go”)
c. Variety: A neutral word for language
or dialect
2. An S-Curve (Sigmoid Distribution) is used to depict the slow-fast-fast-slow unfolding of
linguistic change.
3. Age-grading is a type of language change that recurs cyclically across successive
generations.
4. The real-time approach is a method which relies on the use of a series of diachronic
comparisons of different stages of language/variety to identify and track linguistic change.
It compares a particular stage of language with a current stage of language.
5. Grammatical variability generally exhibits a pattern of sharp social stratification.
Some examples
a. The use of the non-standard “s”
b. Negative concord (“I ain’t got no money)
6. According to the Uniformitarian Principle, if social forces shape language variation and
change today, they must have also done so in the past.
7. The method of studying change by comparing linguistic production of different generations
sampled at the same point in time in the same community relies on the apparent-time
approach.
8. A linguistic deficit hypothesis equates linguistic difference with linguistic deficiency.
AAVE example
a. AAVE is different from standard-English and these differences are seen as deficits.
9. A dialect differs from an accent in terms of its reference to phonology as well as lexis and
grammatical patterns.
10. Phonological variability typically exhibits a pattern of fine or continuous social
stratification.
11. Sex-based differences in language emerge as early as 6 year old, if not earlier and it tends
to be both quantitative and qualitative.

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Glossary
Abstraction: The quality of dealing with ideas rather than events.
Pidgin: A contact language that is lexically impoverished or reduced and grammatically basic. It is
nobody’s first language.
Creole: A pidgin that has been nativized and which is lexically and grammatically more elaborate
than a pidgin.
Nativized: Acquired a community of native speakers.
Structured/Orderly Heterogeneity: A language variation is systematically patterned or
rule-governed. Common factors include age, gender, ethnicity, etc.
Linguistic variable: Alternative ways of saying the ‘same’ thing.
Vernacular: The optimal source for sociolinguistic analysis. It is a style in which minimum
attention is given to the monitoring of speech and is found in casual and intimate situations.
Accent: Refers to the phonological/phonetic difference (i.e. pronunciation differences).
Dialect: Refers to the phonological/phonetic differences, as well as the lexis (vocabulary) and the
syntax (grammar).
Social stratification: Refers to a system by which a society ranks categories of people in a
hierarchy.
Descriptive language: A linguist is interested in what is
said, not what they think ought
to be said.
Speech community: A group of people sharing a common language or dialect.
Linguistic competence: The system of linguistic knowledge possessed by native speakers of a
language.
Invariant: Standardization is all about suppressing variability.
Immutable: Things should not change.
Standard languages: They are not ‘natural’ linguistic developments, as they are deliberately
engineered.
Sociolect: The dialect of a particular social class.
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Composite index: A grouping of indexes, or other factors that are combined in a standardized way
to provide a useful statistical measure.
Fine stratification: The distribution of socially significant linguistic structures among members of
different social groups along a continuous scale rather than on the basis of discrete breaks between
adjacent social groups.
Sharp stratification: A distributional pattern for socially significant features, characterized by a
clear-cut division between social groups.
Sex: A biological category which is based on scientific criteria.
Gender: A socio-cultural elaboration of the biological differences between male and female. It is
also a cultural construct.
Gender-exclusive features: Linguistic features that index the sex/gender of the speaker.
Gender-preferential features: Linguistic features which are associated more (or less) with
speakers of particular gender and tend to be much more common.
Categorical perception: Tends to inflate the importance of a form which may have been used on
only a few occasions.
Changes from below: Changes that take place below the level of consciousness.
Chronological age: The number of years a person has lived.
Social significance: The importance to society.
Age-grading: A change that recurs cyclically at a particular age in successive generations.
Developmental imperative: The product or result of developing.
Linguistic extremism: Often explained in terms of their symbolic ‘declarations of independence’
from the parental generation, and their engagement in constructing identities in opposition to those
of their elders.
Apparent-time hypothesis: A method of studying change by comparing linguistic production of
different generations sampled at the same point in time in the same community.
Real-time hypothesis: A method which relies on the use of a series of diachronic comparisons of
different stages of language/variety to identify and track linguistic change.
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