Semester: Wintersemester 2014/2015

3.02.171 S Studying Language Variation: The Case of American English


  • Di., 10.02.2015, 14:00 - 16:00
  • Dienstag: 14:00 - 16:00, wöchentlich


Language variation is everywhere. We take it for granted that people speak differently in different places (or at least that people in other places speak differently than we do) and are often aware of other forms of language variation, e.g. that people of different age groups use language differently. But region and age are by far not the only factors that cause language variation. Traditionally, we distinguish between five factors that cause language variation: region, social class, gender, ethnicity and age.
In this undergraduate course, we will deal with language variation based on one particular variety of English, American English. We will start with a discussion of some general sociolinguistic questions and critically evaluate some stereotypes and prejudices that many people still have towards dialects and speakers of dialects. Equipped with a critical understanding of language variation and varieties, we will then go on to investigate language variation in the United States and how language variation has been studied so far. In the last few sessions, we will deal with the features of African American English and discuss the social functions and dynamics and social and educational repercussions of speaking a non-standard variety in more detail.

There is an excellent course book on American English, which we will rely heavily on in the course:
Wolfram, Walt & Schilling-Estes, Natalie (2006): American English. Dialects and Variation. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell.

Readings will be made available on Stud.IP.



  • ang617 Language Variation and Change
  • PB 195a Erweiterte anglophone Sprach- und Kulturkompetenz
  • PB 195b Erweiterte anglophone Sprach- und Kulturkompetenz
  • pb113 Erweiterte anglophone Sprach- und Kulturkompetenz
  • pb114 Erweiterte anglophone Sprach- und Kulturkompetenz

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