The predictability of social stratification of syntactic variants

Research output: Chapter in book/volumeChapterScientificpeer-review


This chapter is an enquiry into whether we can predict whether a particular instance of variation at the syntactic level may reflect social stratification or not (Labov 1966, 1972, 1994). Therefore, a range of syntactic variables in Dutch has been examined that may reveal social correlations in the spontaneous speech of 67 speakers who were born, grew up, and still live in one particular locality. Most of the syntactic variables consist of variants associated with the local dialect and (codified) standard Dutch. The syntactic variables examined differ in frequency of occurrence, synonymy/functional equivalence, abstract properties, and presumably noticeability. The fact that the social stratification of various syntactic variables can be investigated by following the same speakers within one speech style, i.e. the sociolinguistic interview,L12 offers a unique opportunity to carefully discriminate the effects of similar socio-demographic factors on different types of syntactic variables. The overall result is that social stratification of syntactic variation can be predicted where syntax maps onto discourse. The outcome is dependent on the extent of duration of language contact situations, and interactions in which particular linguistic variables have become socially meaningful depending on the individual and the wider societal, political and ideological context.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExplanations in Sociosyntactic Variation
EditorsTanya Christensen , Torben Juel Jensen
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages144 - 170
ISBN (Electronic)9781108674942
Publication statusPublished - 05 Jan 2022


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