Volume 33, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0302-5160
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9781
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This paper traces the gradual abandonment of a functionalist perspective in labovian sociolinguistics. In an introductory point, the influence of French functionalism on William Labov, via Uriel Weinreich, is discussed. In the central part of the paper, Labov’s changing attitude towards functionalism is analysed, by distinguishing between different meanings of ‘functionalism’ and ‘functional’. It is shown how Labov gradually rejects the functionalist inspiration that was important in the beginning of his career. The reasons for this change in perspective, and its consequences, are examined. It is concluded that the rejection of the functionalist hypothesis does not affect the core of Labov’s work, which focuses on the correlation of social and linguistic structures. However, it leads to a very different conception of the nature of language variation and change.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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