Dimensions of space in sociolinguistics

Berghoff, Robyn (2014-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Within the social sciences and humanities, adequate definitions and understandings of the concept ‘space’ have been debated for some time. However, until recently, this debate been neglected within linguistics, although it is generally acknowledged that understandings of space within sociolinguistic research specifically have not remained uniform over time. The research presented in this study focuses on the varying conceptions of ‘space’ in the development of variationist sociolinguistics. It specifically seeks to address the lack of a coherent account of the influence that the various dominant conceptualizations of ‘space’ have had on research design throughout the history of the field. Previous work on this topic, which until recently has been relatively scarce, has pointed out some fluctuations in the understanding of space that has been employed within sociolinguistics. Still, these changes over time have not yet been investigated in a systematic and chronological manner. Additionally, previous investigations of the concept ‘space’ in sociolinguistics did not situate themselves within the broader spatial rethinking that has occurred in the social sciences, and thus tend to employ the relevant spatial terminology in isolated and unstandardized ways. The present study examines the conceptualization of ‘space’ in variationist sociolinguistics in a systematic and chronological manner, and situates changes in the understanding of this concept within the so-called “spatial turn” that occurred in the social sciences in the late 1970s/early 1980s. By examining the influential literature within four different variationist sociolinguistic paradigms and identifying the changes in dominant spatial understandings that have occurred over time, the impact of each dominant spatial conception on research design in variationist sociolinguistics is explicated. Ultimately, the study aims to clarify a topic that has previously been treated in largely incomplete and unsystematic ways. By presenting a partial chronicle of the history of ‘space’ in variationist sociolinguistics, the study will moreover serve as a basis for those working in the field to reflect on the directions this relatively young discipline has taken.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Binne die sosiale en geesteswetenskappe is toereikende definisies en begrip van die konsep ‘ruimte’ al vir ’n geruime tyd gedebatteer. Hierdie debat is tot onlangs binne die taalwetenskap afgeskeep, alhoewel dit algemeen erken word dat die begrip van ruimte binne spesifiek sosiolinguistiese navorsing met verloop van tyd verander het. Die navorsing wat in hierdie studie aangebied word, fokus op veranderinge in die konseptualisering van ruimte in die ontwikkeling van variasionistiese sosiolinguistiek. Daar word spesifiek aandag gegee aan die gebrek aan ʼn samehangende beskrywing van die invloed wat verskillende dominante begrippe van ‘ruimte’ gehad het op navorsingsontwerp in die veld se geskiedenis. Vorige werk wat oor dié onderwerp handel, en wat tot onlangs relatief skaars was, het daarop gewys dat daar wel veranderinge was in die manier waarop die begrip ‘ruimte’ binne die sosiolinguistiek gebruik is, maar hierdie veranderinge is nog nie op ʼn sistematiese en chronologiese manier ondersoek nie. Vorige studies van dié onderwerp is ook nie binne die breër ruimte-debat in die sosiale wetenskappe aangebied nie. Daar is dus die geneigheid om die relevante ruimte-terminologie op geïsoleerde en nie-gestandaardiseerde maniere te gebruik. Die huidige studie ondersoek die konsep ‘ruimte’ binne variasionistiese sosiolinguistiek op ʼn sistematiese en chronologiese manier, en plaas veranderinge in die begrip van ruimte in die sosiolinguistiek binne die konteks van die sogenaamde “spatial turn” wat in die laat-1970’s/vroeë-1980’s binne die sosiale wetenskappe plaasgevind het. Deur ʼn ondersoek van invloedryke literatuur binne vier verskillende variasionisties-sosiolinguistiese raamwerke, en die identifisering van die veranderinge in die konseptualisering van dominante ruimte-begrippe wat met verloop van tyd plaasgevind het, word die impak van elke dominante ruimte-begrip op navorsingsontwerp in variasionistiese sosiolinguistiek duidelik gemaak. Die uiteindelike oogmerk van die studie is om duidelikheid te verskaf oor ʼn onderwerp wat voorheen grootliks onvolledig en onsistematies aangespreek is. Deur ’n gedeeltelike kroniek van die geskiedenis van ‘ruimte’ in variationistiese sosiolinguistiek te bied, dien die studie voorts as ’n basis vanwaar taalwetenskaplikes kan besin oor die rigtings waarin hierdie relatief jong dissipline ontwikkel het.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96056
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