Date: Sun, 7 Apr 1996 20:03:43 -0500


Subject: Re: books by Chambers and by Chaika


I've looked through the Chambers book-- I confess to not

having read it all yet!-- and used parts of it, though not much, for a

grad class in Variation Analysis I'm teaching this spring. I plan to

use a lot more of it for a fall grad class in Sociolinguistic

Variation (the difference is that I'm focusing on internal linguistic

variation and quantitative methods now, and will focus on external

variables such as age, sex, class-- JKC's big three-- and language

change in the fall).

It's a really interesting volume, and the first chapter

contains some big-picture stuff I find very helpful. But I don't think

it would work out very well for a class without much linguistics or

sociolx background unless you picked and chose and filled in stuff a

lot for them. It's not really an intro textbook of that sort. On the

other hand, he has a straightforward approach to sociolx that focuses

on covariation of language with social factors that I think is what

undergrads get most easily, more than Labov's approach stressing that

variation is central to grammar. I've been noticing lately how people

seem to divide up on this count, stating plainly that the most

important aspect is [whichever one they prefer]; Walt Wolfram's one of

the few agnostics, saying you can do either one, and they're not the

same, take your pick.

Speaking of the devil, is it true that Wolfram's 1991 textbook

on dialects is out of print? Does anyone have a good-shape extra copy

they'd like to sell me? I'll pay postage. (Write me directly if you

do. Thanks.)

--peter patrick