Volume 4, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2452-1949
  • E-ISSN: 2452-2147
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Style, in the study of variation and change, is intimately linked with broader questions about linguistic innovation and change, standards, social norms, and individual speakers’ stances. This article examines style when applied to lesser-studied languages. Style is both (i) the product of speakers’ choices among variants, and (ii) something reflexively produced through the association of variants and the social position of the users of those variants. In the context of the languages considered here, we ask “What questions do we have about variation in this language and what notion(s) of will answer them?” We highlight methodological, conceptual and analytical challenges for the notion of style as it is usually operationalised in variationist sociolinguistics. We demonstrate that style is a useful research heuristic which – when marshalled alongside locally-oriented accounts of, or proxies for “standard” and “prestige”, in apparent time – allows us to describe language and explore change. It is also a means for exploring social meaning, which speakers may have more or less conscious control over.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Agha, Asif
    2007Language and Social Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Al-Wer, Enam, Uri Horesh, Deema AlAmmar, Hind Alaodini, Aziza Al-Essa, Areej Al-Hawamdeh, Khairia Al-Qahtani and Abeer Ab Hussain
    2020 Probing linguistic change in Arabic vernaculars: A sociohistorical perspective. Language in Society. FirstView. doi:  10.1017/S0047404520000706
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404520000706 [Google Scholar]
  3. Armstrong, Nigel
    2013 Hyperstyle variation in French: Yet another exception culturelle?InMari C. Jones and David Hornsby (eds.), Language and Social Structure in Urban France. Oxford: Legenda, pp.81–91.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Barrett, Rusty
    2017From Drag Queens to Leathermen: Language, gender, and gay male subcultures. New York: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Bell, Allan
    1984 Language style as audience design. Language in Society13:145–164. 10.1017/S004740450001037X
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S004740450001037X [Google Scholar]
  6. 2016 Succeeding waves: Seeking sociolinguistic theory for the twenty-first century. In: Nikolas Coupland (ed.), Sociolinguistics: Theoretical debates. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.391–416. 10.1017/CBO9781107449787.019
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107449787.019 [Google Scholar]
  7. Childs, Tucker, Jeff Good and Alice Mitchell
    2014 Beyond the ancestral code: Towards a model for sociolinguistic language documentation. Language Documentation and Conservation. 8: 168–191.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Cormier, Kearsy, Adam Schembri, David Vinson and Eleni Orfanidou
    2012 First language acquisition differs from second language acquisition in prelingually deaf signers: Evidence from sensitivity to grammaticality judgement in British Sign Language. Cognition124: 50–65. 10.1016/j.cognition.2012.04.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2012.04.003 [Google Scholar]
  9. Dressler, Wolfgang and Ruth Wodak-Leodolter
    1977 Language preservation and language death in Brittany. International Journal of the Sociology of Language12: 33–44.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Eckert, Penelope
    2008 Variation and the indexical field. Journal of Sociolinguistics12(4): 453–476. 10.1111/j.1467‑9841.2008.00374.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9841.2008.00374.x [Google Scholar]
  11. 2012 Three waves of variation study: The emergence of meaning in the study of sociolinguistic variation. Annual Review of Anthropology41: 87–100. doi:https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-anthro-092611-145828. 10.1146/annurev‑anthro‑092611‑145828
    https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-anthro-092611-145828 [Google Scholar]
  12. 2018Meaning and Linguistic Variation: The third wave in sociolinguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/9781316403242
    https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316403242 [Google Scholar]
  13. Eckert, Penelope and William Labov
    2017 Phonetics, phonology and social meaning. Journal of Sociolinguistics21(4): 467–496. 10.1111/josl.12244
    https://doi.org/10.1111/josl.12244 [Google Scholar]
  14. Eckert, Penelope and Sally McConnell-Ginet
    2003Language and Gender. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511791147
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511791147 [Google Scholar]
  15. Goffman, Erving
    1981Forms of Talk. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Gumperz, John J.
    1968 The speech community. International Encyclopedia of Social Sciences, vol.9, pp.381–386. Reprinted as Ch. 7 ofJohn J. Gumperz 1971 Language in Social Groups, Stanford: Stanford University Press, pp.114–128.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Gumperz, John J. and Dell Hymes
    (eds) 1964a The Ethnography of Communication. Special edition of American Anthropologist66No.6 Pt.2.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. (eds.) 1964bDirections in Sociolinguistics. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Haeri, Niloofar
    1987 Male/female differences in speech: An alternative explanation. InKeith M. Dennig, Sharon Inkelas, Faye C. McNair-Knox and John R. Rickford (eds.). Variation in Language: NWAV-X. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Department of Linguistics. 173–182.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. 2000 Form and ideology: Arabic sociolinguistics and beyond. Annual Review of Anthropology29: 61–87. 10.1146/annurev.anthro.29.1.61
    https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.anthro.29.1.61 [Google Scholar]
  21. Hernández-Campoy, Juan M.
    2016Sociolinguistic Styles. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. 10.1002/9781118737606
    https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118737606 [Google Scholar]
  22. Hymes, Dell
    1974Foundations in sociolinguistics: An ethnographic approach. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Ibrahim, Muhammad H.
    1986 Standard and prestige language: A problem in Arabic sociolinguistics. Anthropological Linguistics28:115–126.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Laberge, Suzanne and Gillian Sankoff
    1986 Anything you can do. InGillian Sankoff (ed.). The social life of language. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, pp.271–293.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Labov, William
    1966The Social Stratification of English in New York City. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. 1971 Some principles of linguistic methodology. Language in Society1(1): 97–120. 10.1017/S0047404500006576
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404500006576 [Google Scholar]
  27. 1972Sociolinguistic Patterns. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. 2001Principles of Linguistic Change. Volume 2: Social factors. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. 2015 The discovery of the unexpected. Asia Pacific Language Variation1(1): 7–22. 10.1075/aplv.1.1.01lab
    https://doi.org/10.1075/aplv.1.1.01lab [Google Scholar]
  30. Le Page, Robert B. and Andrée Tabouret-Keller
    1985Acts of Identity: Creole-based approaches to language and ethnicity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Levon, Erez and Isabelle Buchstaller
    2015 Perception, cognition, and linguistic structure: The effect of linguistic modularity and cognitive style on sociolinguistic processing. Language Variation and Change27: 319–348. 10.1017/S0954394515000149
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954394515000149 [Google Scholar]
  32. Lim, Lisa and Umberto Ansaldo
    2015Language Contact. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9781139019743
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139019743 [Google Scholar]
  33. Macaulay, Ronald K. S.
    1999 Is sociolinguistics lacking in style?Cuadernos de Filología Inglesa8:9–33.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Mendoza-Denton, Norma
    2011 The semiotic Hitchhiker’s guide to creaky voice: Circulation and gendered hardcore in a Chicana/o gang persona. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology21(2): 261–280. 10.1111/j.1548‑1395.2011.01110.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1548-1395.2011.01110.x [Google Scholar]
  35. Meyerhoff, Miriam
    2016 Methods, innovations and extensions: Reflections on half a century of methodology in social dialectology. Journal of Sociolinguistics20(4): 431–452. 10.1111/josl.12195
    https://doi.org/10.1111/josl.12195 [Google Scholar]
  36. Meyerhoff, Miriam and James N. Stanford
    2015 “Tings change, all tings change”: the changing face of sociolinguistics with a global perspective. InDick Smakman and Patrick Heinrich (eds.), Globalising Sociolinguistics. London: Routledge, pp.1–15.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Nagy, Naomi
    2018 Linguistic attitudes and contact effects in Toronto’s heritage languages: A variationist sociolinguistic investigation. International Journal of Bilingualism22:429–446. 10.1177/1367006918762160
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1367006918762160 [Google Scholar]
  38. 2021 Prodrop in Heritage Cantonese and Korean is not influenced by English contact. Paper presented atNWAV Asia-Pacific 6, National University of Singapore, 17–21 February 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Ochs, Elinor
    1992 Indexing gender. In: Alessandro Duranti and Charles Goodwin (eds.), Rethinking Context: Language as an Interactive Phenomenon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.335–358.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Paul, Hermann
    1891Principles of the History of Language. [Trans.H. A. Strong] London: Longmans, Green & Co.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Pierrehumbert, Janet
    2000 The phonetic grounding of phonology. Bulletin de la communication parlée5:7–23.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Podesva, Robert J.
    2008 Three sources of stylistic meaning. Texas Linguistic Forum51 (Proceedings of the Symposium about Language and Society – Austin 15), pp1–14.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Rickford, John R. and Penelope Eckert
    2001 Introduction. InPenelope Eckert and John R. Rickford (eds.), Style and Sociolinguistic Variation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp.1–18.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Rodríguez-Ordóñez, Itxaso
    . Fc. The role of social meaning in contact-induced variation among new speakers of Basque. Journal of Sociolinguistics.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Sankoff, Gillian
    2019 Language change across the lifespan: Three trajectory types. Language95(2): 197–229. 10.1353/lan.2019.0029
    https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.2019.0029 [Google Scholar]
  46. Sankoff, Gillian and Suzanne Evans Wagner
    2020 The long tail of language change: A trend and panel study of Québecois French futures. Canadian Journal of Linguistics65: 246–275. 10.1017/cnj.2020.7
    https://doi.org/10.1017/cnj.2020.7 [Google Scholar]
  47. Satyanath, Shobha
    2017 Kohima: Language variation and change in a small but diverse city in India. InDick Smakman and Patrick Heinrich (eds.) Urban Sociolinguistics: The city as a linguistic process and experience. London: Routledge, pp.121–141. 10.4324/9781315514659‑8
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315514659-8 [Google Scholar]
  48. Silverstein, Michael
    2003 Indexical order and the dialectics of sociolinguistic life. Language & Communication23: 193–229. 10.1016/S0271‑5309(03)00013‑2
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0271-5309(03)00013-2 [Google Scholar]
  49. Starr, Rebecca Lurie, Tianxiao Wang and Christian Go
    2020 Sexuality vs. sensuality: The multimodal construction of affective stance in ASMR performances. Journal of Sociolinguistics24(4): 492–513. 10.1111/josl.12410
    https://doi.org/10.1111/josl.12410 [Google Scholar]
  50. Walker, James A.
    2010Variation in Linguistic Systems. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  51. Weinreich, Uriel, William Labov, and Marvin I. Herzog
    1968 Empirical foundations for a theory of language change. InWinfred P. Lehmann and Yakov Malkiel (eds.), Directions for Historical Linguistics: A symposium. Austin: University of Texas Press, pp.95–195.
    [Google Scholar]
  52. Yu, Alan C. L.
    2013 Individual differences in socio-cognitive processing and sound change. InAlan C. L. Yu (ed.) Origins of Sound Change: Approaches to phonologization. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.202–226. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199573745.003.0010
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199573745.003.0010 [Google Scholar]
  53. Zhao, Hui
    2021 Enregisterment, variation and identity construction in Ningbo Putonghua. Paper presented atNew Ways of Analyzing Variation–Asia Pacific 6. National University of Singapore. 17–20 February 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error