Date: Fri, 21 Nov 1997 11:05:44 -0500

From: Ron Butters RonButters[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM

Subject: linguistic heterogeneity

Ellen asks:

And while I'm at it, is everyone

here comfortable with the claim that

the vernacular shows less internal

variation than more formal/middle

class varieties?

I've been howling about this for years. It is perhaps easier to dismiss as

"lames" all working-class folks (as opposed to middle-class folks) who do not

conform to the sociolinguist's expectations, but even so there is tremendous

internal variation left over. Even Labov's New York adolescent street-gang

members showed immense variation with respect to both phonological and

morphological variables. Some of the variation can be explained by

age-grading and stle shifting, but rarely (with a few exceptions) do

sociolinguists even comment on the internal nonlame variation.