Date: Thu, 16 Mar 1995 07:13:00 EST

From: "Dennis.Preston" 22709MGR[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]MSU.EDU

Subject: Re: language and society text

After much flopping around, our Language and Society course here at MSU (300

per semester) has settled (temporarily) on Wolfram's Dialects and American

English and a substantial course pack of readings. We have also worked out a

fairly decent system of group and individual language collection projects

which contribute substantially to the grades.

Some of the recommendations to the list we have tried and found simply not so

good. Wardhaugh is a dandy review for grad students, but, in spite of its

clarity, it is just too dry (and in places too idiosyncratic) for


Holmes, Romaine, both good, simply do not address any familiar stuff. Why

would you want American undergrads to read about varieties in East Anglia

when they don't know beans about the US Northern Cities Vowel Shift?

The old Trudgill Sociolinguistics was pretty good, but it lacks a great deal

on conversation and interaction, and, in general, it is a little out of date.

Chaika's section on discourse and conversation is good, but the treatment of

US regionalism (and quantitative matters in sociolinguistics in general) is

not satisfactory.

For now, I think it would be tough to beat Wolfram for US students, with, of

course, a lot of added readings, particularly in the general language and

culture area.

Dennis Preston