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Making Waves: The Story of Variationist Sociolinguistics

Sali A. Tagliamonte

ISBN: 978-1-118-45544-9 August 2015 Wiley-Blackwell 224 Pages


Making Waves tells the human story of an academic field based on one-to-one interviews with 43 of the most famous scholars in Variationist Sociolinguistics. Explanations of concepts, ideas, good practice and sage advice come directly from the progenitors of the discipline.

  • An authentic, inside story about the origins of Sociolinguistics as Language Variation and Change, recording the context and spirit of sociolinguistics
  • Gives students access to the views on language variation of major sociolinguists such as Bill Labov and Peter Trudgill
  • Offers a human story of an academic field, and is written in the style of a novel, offering complete accessibility with minimal in-group terminology
  • Provides a timely audio archive of the reminiscences of the major Sociolinguists, including Labov, Fasold, Milroy, Trudgill, and Wolfram, with a companion website featuring 400 audio clips from the interviews. Visit the site at

Related Resources

Preface viii

1 Where It Begins 1

2 Synchronicity and Sociolinguistics 25

3 A Crescendo of Research 53

4 Roots of Variationist Thinking 74

5 Sociolinguistics in the Street 88

6 Why Statistics Is in Your Head 107

7 Sociolinguistics From the Heart 121

8 Branching Out; Bursting at the Seams 131

9 Why Do You Like Variation? 158

10 Launching the Future 169

Afterword 185

Appendix A List of Interviews 186

Appendix B VSLX Family Tree 187

References 194

Index 202

"Making waves is an interesting first attempt at writing the history of those that were inspired by Labov's groundbreaking work. One can only hope that more studies in this interesting area will follow." (Dutch Journal of Applied Linguistics 2016)