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This chapter discusses sociolinguistic divisions associated with differences in social prestige, wealth, and power. Class divisions are based on status and power in a society. The linguistic data illuminates the structure of society, and identifies social divisions and points of conflict and convergence. The four central problems on language and class are the definition of class, the description of language use, the explanation of language change, and the construction of linguistic theory. One of the most influential thinkers on the subject of social class is Karl Marx. In Marx's view, the basic dynamic of human history is conflict between classes. The basic difference Bernstein sees between social classes is the range of codes they command: working-class people tend to be confined to the restricted code, whereas middleclass speakers are also versatile in using an elaborated code. The problem for linguistic theory is the variation in the meaning systems of language.
The use of the nominative 1sg pronouns in co-ordinate
NPs in object position, most famously between you and I,
has received much attention from prescriptivists and formal
linguists, but it has never been the object of a variationist study
that compares its usage to that of other variants. This article seeks
to fill the gap, based on a data set of co-ordinate NPs in object
position, gathered through observation of everyday speech as well as in
experimental sociolinguistic interviews. Arguing that the choice of NP
case and of NP order is inseparably related, we identify three major
patterns of co-ordinate NPs: Vernacular me and X and two
post-Vernacular patterns, Standard X and me and Polite X
and I. We then examine social and linguistic factors that
constrain the usage of individual patterns. We conclude that all three
patterns are robust and that they exist in stable ternary
variation.This article, which we
authored jointly, arose from a paper we presented with Cecilia Cutler
and Keith Fernandes at NWAVE–XXVII in Athens, Georgia. Cece and
Keith worked with us in gathering the data and participated in
extensive discussion with us concerning the phenomenon under study. We
are grateful to them. The NWAVE paper itself grew out of a project in a
linguistic variation class at NYU. The other participants in the class
project were Tiffany Dugan and Agnieszka Rakowicz, and we thank them
for their help. We benefited from discussions with Arto Anttila, Jeff
Parrott, and Sharon Klein and from audiences at NYU and Stanford. E. W.
Gilman called our attention to several relevant articles, and Maryam
Bakht-Rofheart, Erik Falkensteen, Bill Haddican, and Ken Lacy provided
us with relevant examples from the media. We also thank Sandra Singler
Harding, Tom Leu, Erez Levon, Pat Reilly, and Arnold Zwicky. The
quotation from an Episcopal missionary appears courtesy of The Archives
of the Episcopal Church USA. We thank Jennifer Peters, archivist, and
her staff for their assistance.
Liberian English, the range of English from pidgin to standard spoken in Liberia, is characterised by vast variation in the marking of semantically plural nouns. Some speakers never mark the plural, while others mark it most of the time. Of the 21 speakers examined in the study that forms the basis for the present article, three of them mark the plural 2 per cent of the time or less, while two others mark it 70 per cent or more. Speakers also vary as to how they mark the plural, whether by a postposed free morpheme, dεn (as in 1 and 2), or by an allomorph of suffixal -z.
(1) ma frεn dεn
(2) di gε dεn
This variation, both in frequency and choice of markers, is subject to disparate factors: social, phonological, and syntactico-semantic.
The impact of these factors on the frequency of plural marking was analysed by use of the varbrul programme. The data comprised 2,039 semantically plural nouns drawn from sociolinguistic interviews and conversations, with a maximum of 100 tokens taken from any one speaker.
Social factor groups
Singler (1984) has as its central point that Liberian English – as it extends from pidgin to Liberian standard English – is a continuum of the type proposed by De Camp (1971). The position of the speaker's output along the Liberian continuum correlates with the speaker's background.
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