Sociolinguistic Typology: Social Determinants of Linguistic Complexity

Paperback | November 15, 2011

byPeter Trudgill

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Peter Trudgill looks at why human societies at different times and places produce different kinds of language. He considers how far social factors influence language structure and compares languages and dialects spoken across the globe, from Vietnam to Nigeria, Polynesia to Scandinavia, andfrom Canada to Amazonia. Modesty prevents Pennsylvanian Dutch Mennonites using the verb wotte ('want'); stratified society lies behind complicated Japanese honorifics; and a mountainous homeland suggests why speakers of Tibetan-Burmese Lahu have words for up there and down there. But culture and environment don't explainwhy Amazonian Jarawara needs three past tenses, nor why Nigerian Igbo can make do with eight adjectives, nor why most languages spoken in high altitudes do not exhibit an array of spatial demonstratives. Nor do they account for some languages changing faster than others or why some get more complexwhile others get simpler. The author looks at these and many other puzzles, exploring the social, linguistic, and other factors that might explain them and in the context of a huge range of languages and societies. Peter Trudgill writes readably, accessibly, and congenially. His book is jargon-free, informed by acute observation, and enlivened by argument: it will appeal to everyone with an interest in the interactions of language with culture, environment, and society.

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Peter Trudgill looks at why human societies at different times and places produce different kinds of language. He considers how far social factors influence language structure and compares languages and dialects spoken across the globe, from Vietnam to Nigeria, Polynesia to Scandinavia, andfrom Canada to Amazonia. Modesty prevents Penn...

Peter Trudgill is Professor of Sociolinguistics at the University of Agder, Norway. He has held Chairs in Linguistics at the Universities of Reading, Essex, Lausanne, and Fribourg (where he is now Emeritus). He is also an Adjunct Professor at the Research Centre for Linguistic Typology at La Trobe University and Honorary Professor of ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:November 15, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199604355

ISBN - 13:9780199604357

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Table of Contents

Prologue: Social Correlates of Linguistic Structures1. Sociolinguistic Typology and the Speed of Change2. Complexification, Simplification, and Two Types of Contact3. Isolation and Complexification4. Mechanisms of Complexification5. Contact and Isolation in Phonology6. Mature Phenomena and Societies of IntimatesEpilogue: On the Future of Linguistic ComplexityBibliographyIndex