Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 July 2012
This article proposes a comprehensive model of the SPEECH COMMUNITY in sociolinguistics that reworks Labov's model, which has been criticized as being restrictive. Fieldork in non-metropolitan Mexico demonstrates the utility of our model, which can be applied across both urban and non-urban domains. It is compatible with the Milroys' central mechanism for the description of individual speech usage and group cohesion or susceptibility to change in terms of the social network. Based on linguistic variable types, this model has a hierarchy of four nested fields (speech community configurations) into which each individual is placed, according to his/her demonstrated recognition of the social evaluation associated with the variables. At the most local configuration, speakers demonstrate no knowledge of generally stigmatized variables; in the second, speakers register an awareness of stigmatized variables; in the third, an awareness of stigmatized and regional variables; and in the fourth, speakers model standard variants over regional ones. This model classifies the kinds of sociolinguistic variables that are pertinent in this social setting and also provides a structured manner for dealing with dialect contact dynamics. (Speech community, social network, Spanish, Mexico, dialect, diffusion, variables.)
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