Socioeconomic Pragmatic Variation
Speech acts and address forms in context
On a regular basis people encounter unfamiliar uses of pragmatic features, such as offers or requests with differing levels of directness or terms of address showing differing amounts of solidarity or deference. Variational pragmatics is the study of such uses, according to region, gender, age, ethnicity and socioeconomic status, among national and sub-national varieties of pluricentric languages. Despite the wide focus just outlined, this volume provides the first study of pragmatic variation across different social classes, using naturally occurring, interactional data. The discourse analyzed here was collected in over twenty restaurant service encounters spanning three price points. The aim of this study is two-fold: to provide a potential framework for how pragmatic variables and their context can be defined, using the concept of a communicative activity, and to investigate socioeconomic variation in pragmatics by taking offers, thanks responses and address forms as examples. This study contributes, both on a methodological and empirical level, to the growing body of research in variational pragmatics, as well as speech acts, terms of address, relational work and sociolinguistics.
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series, 291] 2018. xiv, 201 pp.
Publishing status: Available
© John Benjamins
Table of Contents
List of figures
List of tables
Chapter 1. Variational pragmatics
Chapter 2. Pragmatics and variation
Chapter 3. The Los Angeles restaurant study
Chapter 4. Shared characteristics of service encounter discourse
Chapter 5. Restaurant service encounter offers
Chapter 6. You’re very welcome, you got it, yeah absolutely: Thanks responses in three socioeconomic settings
Chapter 7. Address forms in LARC
Chapter 8. Conclusion
“Variation in pragmatic categories is a rich sector for scholarly engagement, and Staley's treatment of offers, thanks responses, and terms of address is a triumphant case study in variational pragmatics and their intersection with socioeconomic status. Grounded in the collaborative co-construction of meaning, this book marks a rigorous methodological, theoretical and empirical contribution to the canon of language in social context—a must-read for sociolinguists of all stripes.”
Alexandra D’Arcy, University of Victoria
“Staley's study provides a substantial and unique contribution to variational pragmatics. It is in fact the only large-scale analysis of socio-economic variation in language use so far, and a systematic examination of several pragmatic phenomena in the same type of speech event. With its innovative methodology – an original adaptation of Labov's famous department store study to pragmatics – and with its insistence on the crucial role of situational context, this study will be an inspiration to all researchers in discourse analysis and sociolinguistics, especially those interested in pragmatic variation and the language of service encounters.”
Klaus P. Schneider, University of Bonn
“This book makes a valuable contribution to the rather limited VP research on socioeconomic factors, while also addressing some fundamental methodological concerns regarding warranting comparability for pragmatic variation in naturally occurring data. It will provide theoretical, methodological and empirical inspirations for researchers in the fields of VP, pragmatics, sociolinguistics, discourse and related areas of linguistics.”
Hang Su, Sichuan International Studies University, China, in Discourse Studies 21(3), 2019
“The goals for this project were ambitious indeed—to attain Barron and Schneider’s (2009) criteria of empiricity, comparability and contrastivity, to create a sociolinguistically responsible pragmatics, and to answer the research questions. The book succeeds at all three of these. The data collection methodology was thoughtful, socially sensitive, and theoretically well-motivated. The three variables were well chosen. [...] The analysis of the material is multi-faceted, multi-lensed, and meticulous. Socioeconomic Pragmatic Variation should prove of interest to students of interaction, pragmatics, and sociolinguistics.”
Susan Meredith Burt, Illinois State University, on Linguist List 30.2888 (24 July 2019)
“The book is highly recommended reading for individuals interested in linguistic research in general, and (variational) pragmatics in particular. Readers will benefit greatly from the book and in particular from its robust methodology, which shows how naturally occurring data can be collected without unnecessarily interrupting the normal restaurant service, and how contexts – social, linguistic, and cognitive – can be identified, and be of use when observing and interpreting the linguistic realization of pragmatic variables.”
Victor Ho, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, in Pragmatics and Society 10:4 (2019)
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