Style

Language Variation and Identity

Style refers to ways of speaking - how speakers use the resource of language variation to make meaning in social encounters. This 2007 book develops a coherent theoretical approach to style in sociolinguistics, illustrated with copious examples. It explains how speakers project different social identities and create different social relationships through their style choices, and how speech-style and social context inter-relate. Style therefore refers to the wide range of strategic actions and performances that speakers engage in, to construct themselves and their social lives. Coupland draws on and integrates a wide variety of contemporary sociolinguistic research as well as his own extensive research in this field. The emphasis is on how social meanings are made locally, in specific relationships, genres, groups and cultures, and on studying language variation as part of the analysis of spoken discourse.


 Reviews:

'This is a bold book that is ultimately trying to overturn a four-decade tradition of mainstream sociolinguistic research, much (though by no means all) of which has been shaped by the variationist paradigm. That said, the tone is admirably level-headed and remarkably undogmatic. It is also suitably reflexive. … [Coupland] also shows, whilst class-based approaches to language variation were a product of their time - societal functionalism coupled with the economic Fordism of the postwar era - the explanatory power of the Labovian paradigm is well past its use-by date. What we need in its place are theoretical models that can help us to get to grips with the role of language variation and identity in relation to the late-modern, global age in which we now live. Style is a major step in that direction and - without wishing to overstate the point about 'authenticity' - is one of those texts that every serious sociolinguist really does need to read.' Sally Johnson, University of Leeds

'Coupland's Style is a bold and stimulating work, a programmatic review of work in sociolinguistics taking the reader from Labov's original work on variation in Harlem to the contemporary resource and contextualisation approaches Coupland advocates for the future. … written in an engaging style … I fully recommend this compelling study which has opened my eyes to a number of new angles on linguistic problems and encouraged me to read further in the domain.' Cercles

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