Please note: This is a new edition of a previously announced text
This insightful 2009 study proposes a unified theory of speech through which conflicting ideas about language might be understood. It is founded on a number of key points, such as the continuum of linguistic behaviour, extensive variation in language features, the importance of regional and social proximity to shared linguistic production, and differential frequency as a key factor in linguistic production both in regional and social groups and in text corpora. The study shows how this new linguistics of speech does not reject rules in favour of language use, or reject language use in favour of rules; rather, it shows how rules can come from language as people use it. Written in a clear, engaging style and containing invaluably accessible introductions to complex theoretical concepts, this work will be of great interest to students and scholars of sociolinguistics, dialectology and corpus linguistics.
Review of the hardback: 'This is an exciting, sometimes dizzying, book, which incorporates ideas from areas rarely brought together, such as chaos theory, linguistic surveys, corpus linguistics, perceptual dialectology, social attitudes to language, and statistics. … Various sections of the book deal with complex ideas from fields … Yet the discussion is very well-pitched, moving smoothly from basic concepts to applications, and so the pertinence of such ideas and models for language becomes starkly clear. Many groups of readers will find something to take from this book: it offers a coherent big picture, but one in which even the smallest pieces of data are visible.' - Linguist List
Review of the hardback: 'This book represents a step forward. It offers an approach to empirical work. It provides an important description of a new kind of linguistics.' English World-Wide