Speaker-Related Variation-Sociophonetic Factors

Gerard Docherty, Norma Mendoza-Denton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

12 Scopus citations


This article provides a review of sociolinguistic literature on variation, including developments in the interpretation of such variation and the methods used to study it. Phonological variables in the sociolinguistic analysis of phonological variation and change are segmental loci of socially structured variability, broadly equating to a phonemic level of abstraction. The sociolinguistic analysis of a phonological variable is aimed at systematically tracking within and across-speaker variability in a single context with a view to identifying the extent to which such variability is governed by diverse social factors. The analysis in many cases proceeds by scoring the occurrence of a set of auditorily identified variants in order to track the variants of a phonological variable. The large volume of studies of socially correlated phonological variation focuses on the analysis of one language (English), and on a subset of variables, partly as a consequence of the adoption of the phonological variable methodology, and partly arising from the fact that certain variables have been investigated in order to test particular hypotheses regarding variation and change. The sociolinguistic analysis of phonological variables attempts to minimize positionally generated variation in order to capture significant inter/intra-speaker variation in the same context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Laboratory Phonology
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191744068
ISBN (Print)9780199575039
StatePublished - Sep 18 2012


  • Conversational interaction
  • Laboratory phonology
  • Phonological variables
  • Sociolinguistic analysis
  • Sociolinguistic literature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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