Date: Thu, 20 Nov 1997 11:24:57 -0500 From: "Dennis R. Preston" Subject: Re: vernacular Ellen, These are some very important issues. I would add to the style and status senses of vernacular the other 'acquisition' one, namely, the sociolinguistic 'commonplace' that your vernacular is your 'first learned' and hence 'strongest' variety. I think you have to specify which of the above definitions of vernacular you are talking about before you can approach your last question. I also believe you have to specify the linguistic 'level' you mean. That covers too much territory to address quickly, but, to complicate it further, you could think about the apparent fact that regionally isolated varieties (e.g., Faroese as opposed to modern Norwegian, Trudgill's example) show more rather than less variation due to their lack of other-language and variety contact (i.e., their isolation). If you throw out situations like that (and compare only 'equally situated' varieties), then I believe there is a great deal of evidence that lower-status varieties show greater regularity at lexical, phonological, morphological, and syntactic levels. I wouldn't want to venture into discoursal variation. The next two situations (i.e., stylistic and 'native') are also interesting. You would always expect more variation in your 'native' variety (the acquisition sense of 'vernacular'), at least along interpersonal and 'folk' dimensions, although you might speculate that some middle (and upper-) class speakers come to find their native variety so inappropriate for some sorts of interpersonal activities that they actually prefer lower-status varieties (a less 'male' oriented notion of 'covert pretige,' if you like, a theme I tried to use in exaplaining in some of my recent attitudinal research the preference for southern speech among northern repsondents - along affective dimensions only, of coruse; intellectual and 'standard' language use still belong to northern speech [according to Michigan respondents, at any rate]). Glad to see someone is thinking about sorting this out. A little lexical prescriptivism among professionals never hurts. DInIs > I want to return to something Jeutonne said a few days ago. > > >>>I object to the use of "vernacular" in the term, an objection that > I have had since the early 1980s. > Until we consistently use "vernacular" with other terms, such as > Southern dialect, Northern dialect, Yiddish English, Chicano > English, etc., we make, in my opinion, an unfortunate distinction for > African American English. Enough of this soap boax topic. > >>> > > I am working on a paper on what sociolinguists mean by "vernacular" > and the value they attach to it. My hypothesis is that although we > often give a style-based definition of the term, we operationalize it > as a class-based construct. So I am asking, What does "vernacular" > mean to you?" > > 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? > > Ellen > ellen.johnson[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] > Dennis R. Preston Department of Linguistics and Languages Michigan State University East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] Office: (517)353-0740 Fax: (517)432-2736