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William Labov und sein Beitrag zu Sprachwandeltheorien
Abstract: This chapter investigates William Labov’s contribution to theories of language change. It argues that synchronic sociolinguistics with its focus on the investigation of “orderly heterogeneity” can close the gap in our understanding of how language changes continuously, and answer several paradoxes of language change that have puzzled historical linguists before. Rather than being invisible, language change is actually happening before our very eyes, and variationist sociolinguistics makes visible the synchronic variation that is entailed by diachronic change. Sociolinguistics can also explain why changes can continue to move in the same direction over generations, and how language can remain functional in the face of pervasive language change. Rather than assume the dysfunctionality of variability in language, sociolinguistics stresses the social functions that language variation has, and investigates the extralinguistic factors that influence variation.
[N]o one has ever said, „I really like the way young people talk today, it’s so much better than the way we talked when I was growing up.“ ... The most general and most deeply held belief about language is the Golden Age Principle: At some time in the past, language was in a state of perfection. It is understood that in such a state, every sound was correct and beautiful, and every word and expression was proper, accurate, and appropriate. Furthermore, the decline from that state has been regular and persistent, so that every change represents a falling away from the golden age, rather than a return...
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