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May I Quote You on That?

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A guide to English grammar and usage for the twenty-first century, pairing grammar rules with interesting and humorous quotations from American popular culture.

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Academic Paper

Title: The sociolinguistics of a short-lived innovation: Tracing the development of quotative all across spoken and internet newsgroup data
Author: Isabelle Buchstaller
Institution: Universit├Ąt Leipzig
Author: John R. Rickford
Institution: Stanford University
Author: Elizabeth Closs Traugott
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Stanford University
Author: Tom Wasow
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Stanford University
Author: Arnold M. Zwicky
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Stanford University
Linguistic Field: Sociolinguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: This paper examines a short-lived innovation, quotative all, in real and apparent time. We used a two-pronged method to trace the trajectory of all over the past two decades: (i) Quantitative analyses of the quotative system of young Californians from different decades; this reveals a startling crossover pattern: in 1990/1994, all predominates, but by 2005, it has given way to like. (ii) Searches of Internet newsgroups; these confirm that after rising briskly in the 1990s, all is declining. Tracing the changing usage of quotative options provides year-to-year evidence that all has recently given way to like. Our paper has two aims: We provide insights from ongoing language change regarding short-term innovations in the history of English. We also discuss our collaboration with Google Inc. and argue for the value of newsgroups to research projects investigating linguistic variation and change in real time, especially where recorded conversational tokens are relatively sparse.


This article appears IN Language Variation and Change Vol. 22, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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