i love english language

Language Theorists You Need to Know

Posted in Uncategorized by aggslanguage on November 30, 2010


  • J Aitchison’s Potential, Diffusion, Implementation & Codification Model


  • Chen (1968 &1972) – gradual then accelerating change, before levelling off – the S-curve Model


  • Bailey C.J. (1973) – Wave Model: how changes weaken exponentially across a particular geographical region & across different social groups


  • Theory of Lexical Gaps – a word will be invented, converted or borrowed in order to fill a gap in usage as well as a phonological gap in our language


  • Substratum Theory: that language changes primarily through contact with other languages: consider the effect of Yiddish speakers hypercorrect pronunciation of /do-er/ and /caw-fee/ on the distinctive New York accent of today


  • Functional Theory – language changes according to the needs of its users


  • Jean Aitchison’s parodies of prescriptivism


  1. Damp Spoon parody
  2. Crumbling Castle Parody
  3. Infectious Disease Parody


  • Random Fluctuation Theory – Charles Hockett 1958 – language changes owing to its instability, because of random errors and events within the language system, as a response of the ever changing context of language use and its users. E.g. Why has “book” become a synonym for “cool” (predictive texting) – a pretty random occurrence.


  • Guy Deutscher – The Unfolding of Language (2005)

a)    Economy – the tendency to save effort, and is behind the short-cuts speakers often take in pronunciation.


b) Expressiveness – refers to speakers’ attempts to achieve greater effect for their utterances and extend their range of meaning…. the results of this hyperbole can often be self-defeating, since the repetition of emphatic phrases can cause an inflationary process that devalues their currency.


c)    Analogy – the mind’s craving for order, the instinctive need of speakers to find regularity in language.





  • John Honey – Standard English


  • Trudgill –  Norwich Study


  • Labov – New York Study & Martha Vineyard Study


  • Cheshire – Reading Study


  • Milroy – Belfast Study – 1985 – Strong networks promote local linguistic features & looser networks are conduits for linguistic change


  • Bernstein – Restricted & Elaborated Codes


  • Kerswill – Dialect Levelling


  • David Rosewarne – Estuary English


  • Giles & Coupland 1991 – Accommodation involves selecting linguistic alternatives to establish solidarity with or distance from the interlocutor


  • Eckert (2000) – Detroit – the primary importance of gender lies not in differences between male and female across the board, but in differences within gender groups


  • Howard Giles – 1970s –we adjust our speech to “accommodate” the person we are addressing –  Convergence, & Divergence occurs when people’s speech styles move further apart which acts to emphasise the difference between people.


  • Deborah Cameron & Jennifer Coates (1988) –women assigned to a social class on the basis of their husbands’ jobs, income etc, men always being taken as the norm & women’s variations seen as divergent, women treated as a homogeneous group & gender raised as a factor influencing variation above all others.





  • Robin Lakoff – Predictions in Language and Woman’s place (1975)The Deference or Deficit Model


  • Zimmerman & West Sex Roles, Interruptions and Silences (1975)The Dominance Model


  • Dubois & Crouch – 1976 – men using more tag questions in their research.


  • Pamela Fishman Conversational Insecurity (1980) –Women’s use of repeated tag questions are an effective way to gain conversational power as opposed to a marker of any lack of power


  • Helena Leet-Pellegrini Conversational Dominance (1980) – Looking at both gender and expertise as variables in conversations


  • Janet Holmes – (1984) – Tag Questions can be either Modal or Affective


  • Cameron, McAlinden & O’Leary 1989 – men and women using the same number of tag questions in their research


  • O’Barr & Atkins –Women’s Language or Powerless Language (1980) – “Women’s Language” is Powerless Language


  • Dale Spender – 1980 – Man Made Language – the assumptions behind the research into “female language” biases the results, that there is such a thing as “women’s language” and the research was set up in order to delineate its aspects.


  • Deborah Tannen You Just Don’t Understand (1990)Rapport Talk & Report Talk, Cooperative Overlaps Vs Uncooperative Overlaps & The Androcentric Principle: women are seen as “lames”.


  • Victoria DeFrancisco How Men Silence Women (1991)Topic Acceptance – “Conversational Shitwork”.


  • John Gray Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus (1992) –Gray writes almost exclusively about differences.


  • Deborah Cameron – The Myth of Mars & Venus (2007) – Differences between men’s and women’s speech style are actively sought, promoted by academia and the popular press, frame our perceptions, bias our understanding of the issue, reinforce the purported styles, and render a scientific exploration of the issue very difficult indeed.




  • Edward Sapir’s Principle of Linguistic Relativity – 1924


  • Strong Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis – Determinism


  • Weak Sapir Whorf Hypothesis – Reflectionism


  • Sexist Language Debate – The Origins of Political Correctness


  • George Orwell – The Principals of Newspeak


  • George Orwell – Politics & The English Language


  • Dr. David BourlandE-Prime


  • Guy Deutscher – Through The Language Glass – 2010

–       The “Boas-Jakobson Principle”

–       The non-egocentric coordinates of the Guugu Yimithirr tribe of North Eastern Australia

–       Sex & Syntax in French, German & Spanish

–       Russian Blue

–       The Matses tribe of the Amazon


  • Dwight Bolinger – Language The Loaded Weapon by (1980)


  • Deborah Cameron – Language & Political Correctness in Verbal Hygiene (1995)


  • Dale Spender – Man Made Language – (1980)


  • Kate Burridge – Political correctness: euphemism with attitude


6 Responses

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  1. Matthew Odd droyd said, on January 19, 2011 at 10:09 am

    ‘i love english language should have capitals M8

  2. Language student said, on May 19, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Can you give some info on Aitchison’s “Potential, Diffusion, Implementation & Codification Model” or some links to further details about it? I have been looking and can’t find anything so assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!🙂

    • aggslanguage said, on May 20, 2011 at 7:58 pm

      there’s nothing else to it apart from those four words
      1. Potential – there is an internal weakness or an external pressure for a particular change
      2. Diffusion – the change starts to spread through the population
      3. Implementation – people start using the variant – it is incorporated into people’s idolect – group / local languages
      4. Codification Model – written down and subsequently put into the dictionary and accepted officially

      • Language Student said, on June 1, 2011 at 4:01 pm

        Thanks, that’s really helpful.

  3. EnglishLanguage A2 Student said, on June 22, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Could you provide any theorists regarding accents and dialects please

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