Paul Hanly Furfey and the origins of American sociolinguistics
Although his contributions to the study of language are now all but forgotten, Catholic University of America sociologist Paul Hanly Furfey (b. 1896) gave the first known courses on the Sociology of Language starting in 1943. In 1944, he published articles on language and social class, men’s and women’s language, and the Bloomfieldian method of linguistic analysis, and in the early 1950s, he directed the joint dissertation of two of the very first urban dialect researchers to undertake work sufficiently systematic and socially oriented to merit the designation ‘sociolinguistic’ (Putnam & O’Hern 1955). This article surveys Furfey’s career as well as the work of many other pre-1960 contributors to sociolinguistics, notably in North America, most of which fell into oblivion following the great success of William Labov.
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