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VARIATION AND 'INVARIANTES' -IS UTTERER-CENTRED THEORY EQUIPPED TO DEAL WITH LANGUAGE VARIATION?

Abstract : Preamble What follows is an attempt to articulate some of the problems encountered by a sociolinguist of an Anglo-Saxon linguistic background when trying to deal with, understand and teach utterer-centred linguistics (henceforth UC-Linguistics) 1. That a sociolinguist should be writing on the subject of UC Linguistics may initially seem rather surprising. It might be argued by some that, to put it rather bluntly, a sociolinguist has little business writing about, and still less criticising, a theory in which he or she was not brought up, so to speak. However, this paper should be seen as a constructive attempt to pinpoint areas of divergence between two distinct linguistic outlooks and, more importantly, possible paths of convergence. In other words, I shall be looking to see whether UC linguistics as currently practised in France has anything to learn from taking a sideways glance at sociolinguistic endeavours. Any critical comments made of dominant theories in the pages that follow have been made in a constructive spirit. Criticism of some aspects of UC linguistics must not be equated with rejection. UC linguistics has over the years, thanks to its numerous practitioners, produced an impressive array of analyses of contemporary English (or preferably, given the points I shall be making below, of a particular variety of contemporary English) and a host of powerful insights into its structure, or maybe better, the reasons for its structure. There are chinks, though, in its armour. One of these, which I hope to demonstrate here, is the difficulty faced by UC linguistics when faced with variation in English. The question I wish to address here is whether those difficulties, as I perceive them, are caused by an unwillingness to deal with them, caused perhaps by the institutional 1 I use the term 'UC-linguistics' extremely cautiously. It is intended merely as a convenient catch-all term to cover a whole series of approaches to the study of language prevalent in France, which while differing in many important ways, all stress the central importance of utterer context and choice in understanding linguistics structure.
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Jim Walker. VARIATION AND 'INVARIANTES' -IS UTTERER-CENTRED THEORY EQUIPPED TO DEAL WITH LANGUAGE VARIATION?. Anglophonia / Caliban - French Journal of English Linguistics, Presses universitaires du Midi, 2002. ⟨hal-02510540⟩

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