Date: Wed, 1 Dec 1993 13:42:08 +22305606
From: "Ellen Johnson Faq. Filosofia y Hdes." ejohnson[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]ABELLO.SECI.UCHILE.CL
Subject: dialect diversity
I'm back with the statistics I promised last week. The following is a list of
the percentages of words/variants linked to each of the non-linguistic
variables I studied in both the LAMSAS data and my own. These are just the
words that were analyzed statistically: 488 of them in the first sample and
484 in the second one.
region 6.35 1.45
rurality 4.51 2.89
education 4.10 2.89
race 2.66 2.89
age 2.05 2.69
sex 1.43 1.65
total assoc. w/any above 19% 13%
If you look at all of the words collected in response to 150 questions to 39
informants in each set, the vocabulary increased by 40%, though more words in
the new corpus were too infrequent to be tested statistically.
1930s 1007 words, 1990 1402 words
As noted previously, Lowman and I collected about the same average number of
responses per informant, so this is not more words in each person's vocabulary
or differences in methodology, but a diff. in the total number of words in use.
Although TV is probably a factor in some of these new words (the most likely
prospect is giddy-up to get a horse to go), it is difficult to know what
changes to attribute to the media and which to education and wider reading, for
example. Also, it is not likely to lead to homogeneity, if only due to
different audiences for different shows. There are bound to be generational
differences in those influenced by MTV and Lawrence Welk reruns (rock n roll!),
and those who might pick up terms from certain sports shows (e.g. stock car
races) would remain limited to some extent by gender and social class.
I thought the following quote might be appropriate to this discussion:
"Mass communications technology is a powerful cultural agent. Linguists cannot
afford to disregard it simply because of misguided statements by popular
writers that exaggerate its importance as a linguistic influence."
ejohnson[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]abello.seci.uchile.cl