Sociolinguistics, language, and aging

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Using a sociopragmatic lens, we highlight recent strands of research focusing on two of the three main areas identified by Hamilton (1999): the use of language for reflecting and creating identities; and how discourse can reflect the norms, values and practices of society. We focus on studies of the areas of gender and the Internet to show how they emphasize the norms, values and practices of aging. We have assumed that the clinical aspects of Hamilton’s third area, the decline, preservation or improvement of abilities in old age, have been incorporated in other sections of this volume, although we note several areas that have stimulated work in sociolinguistics. Growing emphases on identity, particularly as entwined with gender and language abilities, complicate perspectives on aging and language in a discipline with bifurcated if often complementary methodologies of variation and discourse analysis. Illustrations include brief case studies of specific language usage, such as extenders (and all that stuff) and media and the Internet, including the use of corpora in the sociolinguistic study of aging.


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