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Metodologia sobre la recerca sociolingüística

The sociolinguistics of variation: a methodological approximation (Part II), by Miquel Àngel Pradilla


Q-age group: 35-44

B-informant born in Benicarló

I-father born in yod segregation geographical area (Peníscola).

B-mother born in Benicarló

B-spouse born in Benicarló

T-technical professional

/- no information, as this is defined by occupation.

2- educational level: secondary education

0- no knowledge of Valencian language norms.

4.2. Models

The inclusion of mathematical procedures is essential in obtaining a description of languages as heterogeneously ordered structures. In this respect, applying the quantitative model requires a degree of training in statistics and probability theory.

Since the first probabilistic additive model, used in 1969 by Labov in his study of copula contraction and elision in English in New York, up to the latest generations of the logistic- multiplicative model represented by the VARBRUL programme, there has been permanent progress. The group of researchers in Montreal has without any doubt played a leading role in this field. (11)

Indeed, taking the step from the analysis of frequencies to probabilities based on Cedergren and Sankoff was the most important qualitative leap. The new multiplicative model meant that the linguistic competence of the speakers was described, based on the idea that behaviour data are a statistical reflection of competence. The calculation of probabilities is therefore carried out according to the frequencies observed in a body representative of the linguistic behaviour of the speakers in a community. Silva-Corvalán (1989:56) describes the first version of the VARBRUL program as follows:

"Basically, this mathematical procedure converts the real frequencies of occurrence of a variant X according to a range of factors (the independent variables) into theoretical probabilities and assigns a probabilistic index to each factor which reflects the effect that this factor has on the probability of occurrence of the variant X. The VARBRUL 2 program shown here introduces a logistic model with the following mathematical formulation:

p Po Pi Pj Pk

1-p 1-po 1-pi 1-pj 1-pk

where p represents the probability that a variant occurs in a given context, Po is a probability common to all the factors which is assumed to have a given effect on the variant and Pi, Pj, Pk, etc. are the probabilities of contribution of each factor (which in total make up the variant’s context) to the production of a variant. Using this logistic-multiplicative model, VARBRUL estimates the value of each of these probabilities based on the frequencies observed by the researcher. These values are in the range 0-1. If the value of a pi factor is 0.5, this will have no effect on the variant’s occurrence; values over 0.5 will have a positive effect and those under 0.5, a negative effect. The sum of the values in each group always gives a multiple of 0.5."

A new version, named VARBRUL 2S, includes a calculation of the logarithmic probability every time a group of factors is analysed, which enables different analyses of the same group of data to be compared. This is done by a multiple regression analysis with a staggered factor selection. The programme selects the factors that have a significant correlation with the variable being studied and only calculates the indices of probability for these. Finally, the VARBRUL III version includes a substantial modification – while the application of previous models only accepted binary variables – with two variants – analyses can now be carried out without having to make several computations of data.

5. Bibliography

BASTARDAS, A. i SOLER, J. (eds.) (1988). Sociolingüística i llengua catalana, Barcelona: Empúries.

BELL, A. (1984). "Language style as audience design", Language in Society, 13, pàgs. 145-204.

BIERBACH, C. (1988). "Les actituds lingüístiques", dins A. BASTARDAS i SOLER, J. (eds.) (1988:155-183).

BOURDIEW, P. i BOLTANSKI, L. (1975). "Le fetichisme de la langue", dins Actes de la recherche en Sciences Sociales, 4, pàgs. 2-35.

CEDERGREN, H. (1973). The interplay of social and factors in Panama, Tesi Doctoral: Cornell University.

CEDERGREN, H. (1987). "Consideraciones sociolingüísticas sobre la micro-evolución lingüística", dins LÓPEZ MORALES, H. i VAQUERO, M. (eds.) (1987). ). Actas del I Congreso Internacional sobre el Español de América, San Juan: Academia Puertorriqueña de la Lengua Española.

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