Essay Example on William Labov is sociolinguistic who studies the variation in language Gardine









William Labov is a sociolinguistic who studies the variation in language Gardiner 2008 Social linguistics look for patterns in how the mind creates language and how it is passed on over time He analysed patterns and wave forms of people living in different places and found there is a great deal of variation People wanted to know why poor African American children had a hard time learning to read and if it had any association to their dialect Labov s research demonstrates that linguistic variation is pervasive and highly structured revealing regular patterns of co occurrence between language forms such as the pronunciation of a particular vowel and social categories such as socioeconomic classes Labov has advocated a stronger empirical grounding for linguistics questioning the validity of analyses based on the intuitions of a native speaker and stressing the value of observing naturally produced speech His approach is distinguished from others within sociolinguistics by its reliance on quantitative methods translating sounds into numbers Although Labovs approach is objective because he proposes and initiates knowledge for academics the general principle which appear from his review is that subjective reactions to phonological variables form a deeply embedded structure which is recognized by the entire speech community Labov 2006 

Labov did not provide much help to the field of language teaching he was not preoccupied with focusing on language change and preferred to draw his focus on language acquisition Labov proved that African American Vernacular English AAVE should not be referred to as substandard or stigmatized but respected as a variety of English with its own grammatical rules He also found that language changes spontaneously in the social settings and the environment Anon n d Laud Humphreys performed an investigated research on same-sex physical interaction in public restrooms and parks He wanted to find out what had caused these men to leave the company of other homeward-bound commuters on the freeway What common interests brings these men with their divergent backgrounds to this public facility He used a series of qualitative and quantitative methods surveys interviews tracking the research samples being one of them observing the acts using a different research to get interviews with the samples words of mouth Strength 

By using a range of methods it provides the observer with more information Being in the field gives a full understanding of the phenomenon It enables the ability to study on a small scale providing an enhanced detailed research Weakness very time consuming and hard to get people to participate Biased answers in fear of being exposed or discovered Unethical as respondents are unaware they are part of the research The group may be influenced by the observers presents this could cause a dangerous situation physically for the observer Methodological issues Requires subjects to give informed consent to participation in research guidelines for the conduct of research 2004 A large staff of assistants would be needed to make the observations necessary for an adequate census of this mobile population Most of Humphries statements were based on speculation after having interviewed respondents in disguise a year after he observed them Evaluation The research would have been performed better if he interviewed willing subjects remove bias conduct anonymous interviews update techniques to present day norms use of technology emails Adhere to the present day ethical standards as ethical guidelines today prohibit this kind of research Visiting Research Scholar 1977 1978 Anon n d Conclusion 

Both of these studies are classical studies and completed over time longitudinal experiments though William Labov is based on laboratory experiment to conduct his research while Laud Humphreys focused his research mainly on observation and some interviews Laud Humphreys tearoom trade was not performed ethically as he was deceitful to the people in the tearoom and the police He then carried on deceiving the designers of the health questionnaire and the people who designed the insurance His observations were performed by snap shot as he attended the same place over a period of time Due to the observation of different groups over a period of time Humphries research is not very reliable generalizable this can also be relevant to the fact that it was only one person performing the observations The quality of the research would have come from interviews as he is unable to say that the ones he observed are typical of the ones he had not observed William Labov did conduct a variable research due to his experimental technique with a range of interviews Though Labov's research was valid and generalised with regard to him using the same children ie gender age although he could have increased the validity of the research by ensuring intimidating situations did not occur with reference to an adult focusing questions towards a child These two studies illustrate very different ways of doing things and it is unlikely that either would be respected if these studies were to take place now The reason for this is because in William Labov's study young black children were the focus and this could cause controversy among the parents with the feeling of them being segregated His study also used Male interviewers this too could cause some concerns for parents due to ethical reasons and the concern of what questions would be asked Laud Humphries study would cause concern as it could be viewed as an illegal act of voyeurism and ethical guidelines would prohibit this kind of research

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