LINGUIST List 11.291

Fri Feb 11 2000

Review: Chambers & Trudgill: Dialectology (2nd review)

Editor for this issue: Andrew Carnie <carnielinguistlist.org>


What follows is another discussion note contributed to our Book Discussion Forum. We expect these discussions to be informal and interactive; and the author of the book discussed is cordially invited to join in. If you are interested in leading a book discussion, look for books announced on LINGUIST as "available for discussion." (This means that the publisher has sent us a review copy.) Then contact Andrew Carnie at carnielinguistlist.org

Directory

  1. Omid Tabibzadeh, Re: book review

Message 1: Re: book review

Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 09:30:40 -0600
From: Omid Tabibzadeh <otabibhotmail.com>
Subject: Re: book review

Date:  Mon, 24 Jan 2000 15:00:25 CET
From:  Omid Tabibzadeh 
Subject:  Dialectology


Chambers, J. K. and P. Trudgill, (1998) Dialectology, Cambridge University
Press, (second edition), xiii + 200.

Reviewed by Omid Tabibzadeh, Muenchen University
omid@cis.uni-muenchen.de

Those who have some experiences in the study of dialects, ask always
themselves such questions as: What is really a dialect? What is at all a
language? What is the difference between a language and a dialect...? They
reach sometimes, through their observations, to the fact that further we get
from our standing point, the larger the differences between the neighboring
dialects become, or that some so called different languages (like Norwegian,
Swedish and Danish) are better to be considered as different dialects of the
same language, and some so called different dialects of the same language
(like Germany and Danish) are better to be considered as different
languages... These laymen may even reach to this linguistic knowledge that:
languages can be considered socially or culturally as superior to dialects,
but this kind of superiority has no place in the practical study of
dialects, because linguistically each language is not more than a dialect
and each dialect is itself a language! This understanding is the first step
in the scientific study of dialects or dialectology.
This book is a well organized reference about such questions and facts, and
it is written principally for general readers in linguistics.

BACKGROUND (P.3-53)
1.Dialect and language (P.3-13)
MUTUAL INTELLIGIBILITY is a useful linguistic factor to distinguish one
language from another: A language is a collection of mutually intelligible
dialects (p.3), that is language is an abstract and inclusive term that
refers to some different VARIETIES. For example American English and British
English are two varieties of English language. When two varieties differ
phonetically, they are known as ACCENTS, and when they differ grammatically,
they are known as DIALECTS. The CUMULATIVE effect of the linguistic
differences in a large geographical area is so that the dialects on the
outer edges of the geographical area may not be mutually intelligible, but
they will be linked by a chain of mutual intelligibility. This type of
situation is known as GEOGRAPHICAL DIALECT CONTINUUM. Variability, gradience
and fuzziness are linguistic phenomena that result from the existence of
such continua.

2.Dialect geography (P.13-31)
The main systematic studies of dialects, as a result of striking advances in
philology and the language studies, began in the latter half of the
nineteenth century. The development of DIALECT GEOGRAPHY, as a set of
methods for gathering evidence of dialect differences systematically, was
one of the important result of these advances. Dialect geography is
sometimes called DIALECTOLOGY, but in this book the latter term is used more
generally to mean the study of language variety by any methodology. This
chapter begins with an outline history of dialect geography. Although this
outline is very short, shows clearly the main advances and declines of
dialect geography from the very beginning of its existence (George Wenkers
survey in Germany, 1879) to the present time in Europe, Canada and specially
America. There is, however, no comment in this section about the connections
between the dialect geography and the methods used in many important dialect
surveys in Russia and many other Slavic language countries. No account of
dialect geography would be complete without some discussions of the
QUESTIONNAIRE, different LINGUISTIC MAPS (DISPLAY or INTERPRETIVE maps),
ISOGLOSS and the selection of INFORMANTS and FIELDWORKERS. These terms and
methods of dialect geography are clearly defined in this chapter.

3.Dialectology and linguistics (P.33-44)
Dialectology is a practical field with concrete methods that deal with
comparing individual forms not as the same or different but as constituent
parts of their own systems. But theoretical linguistics found it a drawback
of dialectology that tended to treat linguistic forms in isolation rather
than as parts of abstract systems or structures. The systematic approach to
dialect differences was fundamental to STRUCTURAL DIALECTOLOGY (begun with
the article: Is a structural dialectolgy possible? by U. Weinreich, 1954).
Weinreich attempted to construct a higher level system (DYASYSTEM) which
could incorporate two or more dialect systems. The authors have shown that
structural dialectology was able to handle the differences between varieties
in terms of PHONEME INVENTORY, but it wasnt able to describe the
differences in terms of PHONEME DISTRIBUTION and PHONEME INCIDENCE. A way
out of some difficulties was offered by GENERATIVE DIALECTOLOGY, that has a
two level approach to phonology: a) underlying form in which lexical items
are listed in the lexicon; b) phonological rules which converted these
abstract forms into their actual pronunciation. According to this view the
related dialects have a single abstract underlying form, but they differ in
the phonological rules and / or the environment in which the rules apply,
and / or the order in which the rules apply (p. 41). The most important
problem for generative phonology is the concept of underlying form; does
this term really refer to a discovered fact, or it is only an arbitrary and
invented concept?! The authors have discussed that this approach could cope
with inventory and distribution differences, but not with the incidence
differences.

4.Urban dialectology (P.45-53)
Rural dialectology concentrates on the relationships between language and
geography, and on the spatial differences of language, but URBAN
DIALECTOLOGY concentrates more on the relationship between language and such
social features as social class, age group, ethnic background etc. As a
result of philological interest of rural (traditional) dialectology, the
majority of its informants consisted of Nonmobile, Older, Rural Males (=
NORMs). It was felt that these informants would present examples of the most
genuine dialects. But urban dialectology, according to its synchronic
interests, tried to concentrated on the typical speech forms of a social
group. In urban dialectology, like all social sciences, individuals are
selected at random from the total population in such a way that all members
of community have an equal chance of selection, in order that the speakers
investigated should be REPRESENTETIV of entire population (P. 47).
Socialdialectologists have always problems with the OBSERVERS PARADOX:
Linguists want to observe the ways people speak when they are not being
observed (P. 48). There are some methods of overcoming this paradox that are
introduced briefly in this chapter. A LINGUISTIC VARIABLE, which is usually
called FREE VARIATION in rural dialectology, is a linguistic unit with two
or more variants involved in covariation with other social and / or
linguistic variables. There are methods of calculating the simple score for
variables. The calculation of these scores and the usage of these methods
are discussed and introduced in this chapter.

SOCIAL VARIATION (P.57-86)
5.Social differentiation and language (P.57-69)
The authors have examined the relationships between languages and such
social features as social classes, sex of speakers, ethnic groups and social
networks. The social groups discussed in this chapter are: Middle Middle
Class (MMC), Lower Middle Class (LMC), Upper Working Class (UWC), Middle
Working Class (MWC) and Lower Working Class (LWC). It has been also shown
that the study of these social features can be based on styles of speech.
These styles are examined in this chapter: Formal Speech Style (FS), Casual
Speech Style (CS), Reading - Passage Style (RPS) and Word - List Style
(WLS).

6.Sociolinguistic structures and linguistic innovation (P.70-86)
Sometimes there is a relationship between two or more variations (for
example between style shift and social groups). Some of these correlations
are discussed in this chapter, and it has been shown how one type of
variation can be explained in terms of the other(s). There are two types of
variables: MARKERS and INDICATORS. Markers are highly involved in a
systematic stylistic variation, but indicators are not so highly and
systematically involved. Furthermore speakers are less aware of indicators
than markers. The authors have discussed why speakers are more sensitive to
the social implications of some variables (markers) than others
(indicators). Linguistic changes (as historical processes) can be studied
either in REAL TIME, which obviously takes too much time, or in APPARENT
TIME. To investigate linguistic change in apparent time simply means that,
in investigating a particular community, we compare the speech of older
people with that of younger people, and assume that any differences are the
result of linguistic change (P. 79). There are many clear example in this
chapter about the usage of this method.

SPATIAL VARIATION (P.89-123)
7. Boundaries (P.89-103)
Traditionally each isogloss plots a single linguistic feature, and marks
boundaries between two regions according to that feature. Isoglosses may
have certain patterns in various surveys: sometimes they CRISSCROSS one
another chaotically. This pattern is typical for regions that have a long
settlement history. Sometimes they show a TRANSITION zone, in which dialect
features tend to be shared over relatively great distances. This pattern is
typical for regions with a settlement history that goes back only one or two
centuries. Another common pattern of isogloss is RELIC AREAS: a linguistic
feature exist in more parts of the region but those parts are separated from
one another by an area in which a new different feature occurs. The
difference between the dialects may be found at any structural level. The
isoglosses, therefore, can be categorized according to the type of their
linguistic feature, and they can also be graded according to some arbitrary
criteria or empirical observations. The authors have suggested these types
and order: LEXICAL (lexical and pronunciation), PHONOLOGICAL (phonetic and
phonemic), GRAMMATICAL (morphological and syntactic).

8.Transitions (P.105-123)
Philologists and dialectologists have reinforced the fact that variation is
not abrupt and there is usually no unbridgeable abyss between the dialects.
In this chapter the possible variations in transition zones have been
demonstrated. Between two pure dialect regions there are always many
speakers whose range of indices for the occurrence of a related linguistic
feature ranges from 99 per cent all the way down to 1 per cent. These
speakers, who are the members of the transitional zone, belong to two main
transitional LECTS (variables): 1) MIXED lects, in which none of the related
linguistic features is identified by the index 100 (or 0) per cent, 2)
FUDGED lects, in which none of the related linguistic features, but a fudged
or mixture of them is used. The authors have explained how these
transitional lects can be discovered, extracted and interpreted.

MECHANISMS OF VARIATION (P.127-189)
9.Variability (P.127-148)
Variability, as a linguistic factor, must be incorporated in linguistic
theory. One device for representing variability is to arrange the variable
elements on a SCALOGRAM, a matrix that presents an implicational array. The
implicational relationships show that the occurrence of features are
organized systematically and they are rule governed. Variability deals with
relative differences. It is, therefore, a linguistic data that must be dealt
with QUANTITATIVELY. Determining the frequency of features requires a
quantitative method. Two of these quantifying methods are introduced
briefly: 1) DIALECTOMETRY: a quantitative analyses of dialect data that
counts the disagreement between the linguistic items of two neighboring
regions and indicates the LINGUISTIC DISTANCE between those places. In this
method geographical distances are represented spatially on the map, and
linguistic distances are represented by DISTANCE METRIC - the number that
indicates how dissimilar the speech is in the two places connected by the
line on the map, 2) MULTIVARIATE STATISTICAL PROGRAMS: another quantitative
analyses of dialect data that reduces volumes of complex data to a set of
comprehensible relationships and represents the linguistic distances
spatially.

10.Diffusion: sociolinguistic and lexical (149-165)
DIFFUSION is the study of the progress of linguistic innovations. In this
chapter the authors have examined a number of questions relating to the
hypotheses of diffusion: 1) who are the innovators? By correlating the
linguistic variable with independent variables (like age, sex, social class,
ethnic group and geographical region), one can ascertain the social groups
that are in the vanguard of a particular innovation. Some instances of the
application of this method is demonstrated in this chapter. 2) What
linguistic elements are the vehicles of innovation. The theory of LEXICAL
DIFFUSION is an answer to this question: a linguistic change spread
gradually across the lexicon, from word to word. This hypothesis maintains
that phonological change is lexically gradual.

11.Diffusion: geographical (P.166-186)
SPATIAL DIFFUSIONS are linguistic innovations that leap from one place,
usually a large city, to another city or large town, and then move into the
places between, such as towns and villages. In order to achieve an
understanding of spatial diffusion of linguistic forms the cartographical
techniques must be developed, because the traditional linguistic maps are
inadequate in a number of ways. For example these maps are not able to show
the importance of urban centers in the spreading of innovations, or they
show linguistic innovations as statistic processes. The authors, therefore,
have tried to introduce some improvements in the cartographical
representation of spatial diffusions.  It has been assumed that the
interaction of two urban centers is usually a function of their populations
and the distance between them, and that the influence of the one on the
other will be proportional to their relative population sizes. The authors
have demonstrated that, based on this assumption, it is possible to account
for the linguistic influence of one urban center on another.

12.Cohesion in dialectology (P.187-189)
This chapter devotes to a short account of the differences and similarities
between dialectology and sociolinguistics, and the relationships between
these fields and humangeography.
With the exception of chapter 11, that seems to be a little difficult for
general readers in linguistics, other chapters are easily usable by general
readers. The only prerequisite for this book is some general knowledge in
articulatory phonetics and phonology.
- --------------------------------------------------------------------
Dr. Omid Tabibzadeh,
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen,
Moosacher Str. 81, 509, 80809, Muenchen, Germany,
Tel. 089-35 78 60 80,

Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue