Got class? Community-shared conceptualizations of social class in evaluative reactions to sociolinguistic variables

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In recent years, researchers have successfully used information about cultural identity and consumption behavior to uncover class-based variation in linguistic production data. Is this variation reflected in implicit class-related language attitudes, of which listeners may not even be aware? And which types of evaluative conceptualizations of class membership do listeners in fact use? In a two-alternative forced choice task, we compared how listeners associate linguistic variables with both more classic and newer conceptualizations of class membership. High social class responses were significantly more likely for standard linguistic variants than for nonstandard linguistic variants (for all five types of social class conceptualizations we used). The fact that there was no difference between the class conceptualizations indicates that conceptualizations in terms of economic production, culture, and consumption were equally successful in probing evaluative reactions to class-based linguistic variation in the region investigated.


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