Variety, Standard varieties

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Summary

In sociolinguistics a variety, also called a lect, is a specific form of a language or language cluster. This may include languages, dialects, accents, registers, styles or other sociolinguistic variation, as well as the standard variety itself.Meecham, Marjorie and Janie Rees-Miller. (2001) "Language in social contexts." In W. O'Grady, J. Archibald, M. Aronoff and J. Rees-Miller (eds) Contemporary Linguistics. pp. 537-590. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's. "Variety" avoids the terms language, which many people associate only with the standard language, and dialect, which is associated with non-standard varieties thought of as less prestig

Details

Most languages have a standard variety; that is, some variety that is selected and promoted by either quasi-legal authorities or other social institutions, such as schools or media. Standard varieties are more prestigious than other, nonstandard varieties and are generally thought of as "correct" by speakers of the language. Since this selection constitutes an arbitrary standard, however, standard varieties are only "correct" in the sense that they are highly valued within the society that uses the language. As Ralph Harold Fasold puts it, "The standard language may not even be the best possible constellation of linguistic features available. It is general social acceptance that gives us a workable arbitrary standard, not any inherent superiority of the characteristics it specifies."Fasold, Ralph. (2006) "The politics of language." In R.W. Fasold and J. Connor-Linton (eds) An Introduction to Language and Linguistics. pp. 371-400. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Sociolinguists generally recognize the standard variety of a language as one of the dialects of that language.Trudgill, Peter. (1999) "Standard English: what it isn't"Copyright: Attribute—Share Alike

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