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A multilocality study of a sound change in progress: The case of /l/ vocalization in New Zealand and Australian English

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 September 2001

Barbara M. Horvath
Affiliation:
University of Sydney
Ronald J. Horvath
Affiliation:
University of Sydney

Abstract

It is usual to study a number of linguistic variables in a single speech community. The present study, however, focuses on a single phonological variable in a number of speech communities—the vocalization of /l/ in nine Australian and New Zealand cities—in order to (1) strengthen and extend the quick and anonymous field method by designing an instrument to include all relevant phonological environments; (2) demonstrate the strategic potential of moving from a unilocality to a multilocality sociolinguistics; (3) conceptualize a variationist isogloss that extends rather than displaces the core methodology of sociolinguistics; and (4) propose a conception of geography that offers mechanisms (space and place effects) to help distinguish language change processes that are universal from those that are not. Place and space represent a system of contrasts within geography. Place effects refer to the ensemble of sociolinguistic conditions within a speech locality, whereas space effects refer to the relationship between speech localities. Place effects provide a potential explanation for why spatial models fail to account adequately for the facts: that is, why some places resist the spread of innovation while other places welcome innovation.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2001 Cambridge University Press

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