Style and stylisation

Authored by: Jürgen Jaspers , Sarah Van Hoof

The Routledge Handbook of Linguistic Ethnography

Print publication date:  September  2019
Online publication date:  August  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138938168
eBook ISBN: 9781315675824
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter focusses on the concepts of style and stylisation as they have been used in linguistic ethnography. It explains how sociolinguists have become increasingly interested both in processes of shifting between styles, and in fleeting moments of stylisation occurring in interaction. It provides a historical account of the development of interest in style, from Labov’s work in New York in the 1960s which showed the socially patterned nature of language variation, through second-wave variationist studies which attended more to local social meanings, through to third-wave studies which focussed on speakers’ creative combinations of semiotic resources to construct social meaning as an active process. The connections between style and stylisation and concepts such as indexicality and enregisterment are explored, with reference to a range of contemporary studies. The chapter goes on to identify key debates, including whether stylisations are best characterised as artful performance or everyday activity, whether stylisation should be interpreted as critical and how best to relate stylisations to style. Methods for the study of style and stylisation are described, and future directions for research identified, including further exploration of how these concepts challenge notions of standard language and dialect.

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