Studies of the Community and the Individual

James A. Walker and Miriam Meyerhoff

in The Oxford Handbook of Sociolinguistics

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199744084
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Studies of the Community and the Individual


Within the study of sociolinguistic variation and change, two approaches have been developed that attempt to link individual speaker behavior with the study of the community. One approach makes use of “linguistic grouping,” examining the linguistic conditioning of individual speakers and looking for social correlates of the resulting groups. Another approach is the detailed analysis of individual speakers in different social situations. This chapter presents an overview of these two research traditions. It provides analyses across groups and individuals in the English spoken on the island of Bequia. Two well-studied grammatical variables constitute the linguistic focus of this research: The absence of copula/auxiliary be and existential constructions. The discussion compares the linguistic conditioning of these features in the speech of individuals who have left Bequia for long periods of time with that of their stay-at-home peers.

Keywords: Bequia; sociolinguistic variation; linguistic grouping; existential constructions; linguistic conditioning

Article.  6526 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Sociolinguistics

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