|Title||Emergent sociolinguistic variation in severe language endangerment|
Contrary to Labov’s Principle of style shifting, studies in language obsolescence portray speakers of dying languages as ‘monostylistic’, a characterization questioned here. Variationist methodology is adopted in a context of gradual language death. By combining quantitative and interactional analyses of data from older, younger, and new speakers of Francoprovençal in France and Switzerland, the article considers (a) to what extent variability in language obsolescence differs from that found in ‘healthy’ languages, and (b) how innovations might spread through communities speaking threatened languages characterized as ‘monostylistic’ and lacking overt normative infrastructure. It is argued that style variation (not monostylism) emerges from linguistic decay: among more fluent speakers, a categorical rule of /l/-palatalization before obstruents becomes underspecified, rendering palatalization available for strategic use. Among new speakers, novel palatal variants form part of an emergent sociolinguistic norm. The study offers fresh insights on the origins of sociolinguistic variation with implications for variationist theory.
|language variation and change|
|Journal||Language in Society|
|Publisher||Cambridge University Press|
|Accepted author manuscript||LSY-A-18-120.R1-KASSTAN-PDF.pdf|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI)||doi:10.1017/S0047404519000472|
|Published online||29 Jul 2019|