Assistant editors: Christian Grösslinger / Christopher Herzog
The Expression of Societal and Cultural Conflict in Language
← 12 | 13 → GABRIELLA MAZZON
The problem of modelling and explaining language variation, which has been in the forefront of many branches of modern linguistics ever since its beginnings, continues to be discussed, especially in relation to the systematic connection of formal variation with specific extralinguistic categories.
The danger of oversimplification and reductionism in describing variation is ever-present, and various schools of thought have tried to find their own solutions, often ultimately failing to account for the multiplicity and complexity of the phenomenon. Within functional and socio-cultural perspectives, the existence and persistence of variation, and its relation to language change, have more and more often and influentially been seen as the expression of social opposition and struggle. Roughly said, this struggle is created by the juxtaposition between an elite that imposes a standard variety (that carries group-identity values, with which the elite itself identifies), and other strata of society that perpetuate their own identity-carrying language forms (Milroy and Milroy 1993). This paper attempts a systematisation and discussion of such analyses within a cultural model of opposition and resistance, with reference to various phenomena of linguistic variation as cultural manifestation, mostly in connection with English-speaking contexts.
The coexistence of cultures, and their interrelationships, have been an object of concern and analysis for a long time; before the onset of modern social sciences, the necessity to accommodate various cultural models within a pattern of (more or less peaceful) coexistence of different human groups on a territory gave...
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