Course: Studying sociolinguistic variation

Times: 1:30 - 5pm

Dates: Thursday and Friday, 5 - 6 December 2019

Instructor: Professor James Walker, La Trobe University

Registration: Please register here for Summer School 2019



This course looks at the study of variation in language and its conditioning by social and linguistic factors. We focus on variation at the level of the individual speaker and their relation to larger groups based on global and local considerations, such as sex/gender, ethnic group and socio-economic status or role. We also look at the interaction of social factors with linguistic contexts. Some examples are drawn from English-speaking communities but we attempt to illustrate topics from a cross-linguistic perspective.

Assumed knowledge

A basic understanding of linguistic concepts.

Background knowledge

No background knowledge beyond general linguistics is required.


Students interested in quantitative analysis of their own data are invited to prepare questions for discussion at appropriate points in the course.


  • Day 1: Variation and variables. Phonetic/phonological variation. Variable rule analysis.
  • Day 2: Discourse-pragmatic variation. Social factors in variation. Advanced variable rule analysis.
  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University