Review by Choice Review
Sociolinguistics, the study of the social uses of language, is a recent branch of linguistics. And the most recent area within sociolinguistics concentrates on the study of socially conditioned variation in language. This volume presents the ideas that drive that study and illustrates their application in a wide variety of essays. The heart of the book lies in the 300-page central section, "Social Factors," which is the best-argued part of the book. And the best-written articles in this section are those by women--corroborations of the findings of various contributors that women of most social classes in most countries choose more standard or "approved" language variants than do men. If this section were published as a separate book, it would make for an accessible study--and linguists need to attract a public readership rather than alienate through jargon-infested, clumsy writing. Nevertheless, among recent works on linguistics, this is one of the best, in part because the field of social linguistics is of greater human interest than other areas of linguistics. The ample bibliographies appended to each essay draw attention to the fact that William Labov has already been apotheosized within sociolinguistics, just as Noam Chomsky was within structural linguistics. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals. J. B. Beston formerly, Nazareth College of Rochester
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.