Language in Society

Articles: Areal Contexts of Change

Linguistic change and diffusion: description and explanation in sociolinguistic dialect geography

Peter Trudgilla1

a1 Department of Linguistic Science, University of Reading


Linguistic geography has remained relatively unaffected by recent developments in sociolinguistic theory and method and theoretical geography. In this paper it is argued that insights and techniques from both these disciplines will be of value in improving descriptions of geographical variation in language, and that these improvements will in turn lead to more adequate explanations for certain of the social and spatial characteristics of linguistic change. Evidence in favour of a sociolinguistic methodology and new cartographic techniques in dialect geography is drawn from empirical studies in urban dialectology, in East Anglia, England, and rural dialectology, in Norway. (Sociolinguistic variation, dialectology, linguistic change, British English, Norwegian.)