Date: Fri, 21 Nov 1997 11:05:44 -0500 From: Ron Butters 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.