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New Approaches to the Study of Linguistic Variability

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Edited By Markus Bieswanger and Amei Koll-Stobbe

The fourth volume in the series Language Competence and Language Awareness in Europe features contributions from various philologies in the young but rapidly growing research area of linguistic variability. The book grew out of a nucleus of papers presented at a North German Linguistics Workshop organised by the chair of English Linguistics, and developed into a collection of doctoral and post-doctoral research papers on variability in different domains of language use, variability as conceptual cum linguistic variability, and variability as studied in the mainstream research framework of corpus linguistics. It is the integrative presentation of thematic breadth and pluralistic research methodologies that inspired the title New Approaches to the Study of Linguistic Variability. The volume focuses on sociolinguistic studies of language use as social practice and variability of authentic language use.

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Markus Bieswanger: New approaches to the study of linguistic variability

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New approaches to the study of linguistic variability Markus Bieswanger Scientific interest in the complex and multidimensional issue of linguistic varia- bility is rather young, but has been one of the most rapidly growing research ar- eas in linguistics in recent decades. Despite the undisputed fact that “[v]ariability is everywhere in language” (Wolfram 2006:333), the analysis and description of language variation had for a long time essentially been limited to dialectology in the traditional sense, i.e. to variation related to the geographical background of the speaker. It was only about half a decade ago that the pioneers of sociolinguistics founded a new and internally diverse but now well- established subfield of linguistics devoted to the study, description and explana- tion of language variation (cf. Bayley, Cameron & Lucas 2013:1). For such a task, largely based on empirical evidence in the form of observable language behaviour, a number of linguistic and social factors have to be considered indi- vidually as well as in combination and new methods of gathering and working with this kind of linguistic data have to be developed. In the introduction to The Handbook of Sociolinguistics, Coulmas (1997:6) states that “[m]ethodological questions concerning the delimitation, collection, and processing of empirical data have therefore been much more in the foreground than theory construc- tion.” Even today, there is an ongoing quest for innovative approaches to the analysis of linguistic variability, which is, for example, impressively illustrated by the fact that the New Ways of Analyzing...

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