Source of the pic.:

William Labov (1927 -)


Research Interests

  • Sociolinguistics, language change, and dialectology
  • Black English Vernacular and Sociolinguistic Patterns

Notable Ideas

Academic Life

William Labov is a professor in the linguistics department of the University of Pennsylvania. He is widely regarded as the founder of the discipline of variationist sociolinguistics and pursues research in dialectology.

The methods he used to collect data for his study of the varieties of English spoken in New York City have been influential in social dialectology.

His studies of the linguistic features of Black English Vernacular (BEV) were also influential: he argued that BEV should not be stigmatized as substandard but respected as a variety of English with its own grammatical rules, although speakers of BEV should be encouraged to learn standard American English for interactions in society at large. He is also noted for his seminal studies of the way ordinary people structure narrative stories of their own lives.

Main Publications

  • Labov, William (1966). The Social Stratification of English in New York City, Washington, DC: Center for applied Linguistics.
  • Labov, William (1972). Language in the Inner City: Studies in Black English Vernacular, Philadelphia: U. of Pennsylvania Press. French translation: Le Parler Ordinaire. Paris: Editions de Minuit.
  • Labov, William (1972). Sociolinguistic Patterns, Philadelphia: U. of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Labov, William (1994, 2001). Principles of Linguistic Change (vol.I Internal Factors, 1994; vol.II Social Factors, 2001), Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Categories: People