5.3 Change in real time
5.3.1 Reviewing the past
way of overcoming the logistical difficulties as well as the methodological issues, in
studies of change in apparent time, is to search for studies previously carried out
on the speech community, to use the results obtained for comparison. In other words, to
use the past to explain the present.
approach, which has been developed to good effect by certain scholars working on
linguistic change, has the disadvantage that the data are often too fragmentary and not
always very good quality, but also has the advantage that the evidence is objective, in
the sense that the data are not from a given type of study or a specific research project.
A further methodological problem here involves the typical tension between qualification
and quantification, since the observations that a variant occurred "sometimes"
or "frequently" in the past cannot be compared with the quantified frequencies
of more recent studies. What is more, the conservatism of the traditional dialectologists
is notorious; it is well known that in general they limited their recording of forms to
variants that had already been dated to previous periods of the history of the language.
5.3.2 Repeating the past and returning to the scene
In seeking to
overcome the methodological problems discussed above, a new methodology was eventually
adopted which involved repeating or replicating observations made in the past, by
returning to the scene where the language variation and suspected language change was
This new focus
came into being thanks to the development and implementation of two types of study:
Replication or trend studies, where the study is carried out with the same
population, and the same data collection methods are used, plus the same techniques of
analysis, but x years later (usually 10 ~ 15 years later).
Studies based on the same original sample (panel studies). These involve the seeking out
of the same individuals, with same monitoring of the changes in linguistic behaviour using
identical instruments (questionnaires, etc) as before in the study on apparent time. I
propose the term "sample study" to refer to this type of study of linguistic
change in real time.
18.104.22.168 Replica studies
replication studies are the simplest way of returning to the past, but they raise a
substantial number of methodological problems. In the first place, if a large community is
involved, it may be difficult or impossible to include any of the individuals who had
taken part in the original sample. Furthermore, the community would necessarily have to be
one that remained demographically stable, otherwise the changes could, and probably would,
be externally motivated. This does not mean that externally motivated variation and change
are unimportant but in this case one would be hard put to say whether they were produced
as a result of internal linguistic factors. (Bailey and Maynor 1987).
22.214.171.124 "Sampling studies"
This type of
study seeks to go back to use the original sample of informants or consultants, and thus
entails the locating of the same individuals who had taken part in the study of change in apparent
time. These individuals are then given the same questionnaire, in the same
sociolinguistic interview with the same formal tests as in the original research design.
Instances of this type of study include a) the sample study carried out in Montreal in
1984 by Thibault and Vincent (1990) based on an original study in apparent time by
Sankoff and Cedergren, in Sankoff and Sankoff (1973); b) the analysis of a single
individual over a period of time carried out by Brink and Lund (1975) within the framework
of research on the dialect of Copenhagen, and lastly, the study by (1987) on the Besaran
dialect of Yiddish, which contrasts with standard Yiddish, based on the recordings
of a single speaker, the folksinger Sara Gorby, over several decades of her life.
6. The relationship between linguistic change in apparent time and
change in real time
context which sets out to look at the relationship between linguistic change in real and
apparent time would need to be based on two sets of principles which emerged in the
studies of linguistic variation and change carried out over the course of the three
decades during which the Change in Paradigm was developing. One of these sets of
principles came out of the research that looked at differences and similarities between
variation in the individual, and variation in the group, and which sought to confirm the
internal and external factors that could explain the uniform distribution of variation in
a given community (Guy 1980). The other set of principles had to do with notions of change
from above and change from below, already discussed elsewhere (Turell 1995a).
There are a
number of published studies which consider the relationship between linguistic change in apparent
time and linguistic change in real time. It will not be possible to mention all
of them, but I should like to mention one or two of the more significant of those that
deal with the Spanish and English languages.
most significant study on linguistic change in Spanish is the replication or trend study
by Cedergren (1969-1982) in real time in Panama dealing with the substitution of
affricative /c/ of Spanish by the fricative // as in words like muchacha
(girl) muchos (many) etc. The objective of this study was to show, using
newly available real-time evidence, that there actually was a change in progress.
been a number of studies of this kind involving English, but perhaps the most significant
from the point of view of the relationship between apparent time and real time is the
study by Payne (1976, 1980) on the acquisition of the Philadelphia dialect. More
specifically, Payne studied the phonological changes (for example, the splitting of the
English vowel a into two variants: one tense, the other lax) which were occurring
in the dialect which was being acquired by the children of families that were originally
from outside the Philadelphia area.
interesting study from the methodological point of view is the replication or trend study
by Trudgill (1988) of his original study of linguistic variation and change carried out in
the English city of Norwich in 1968 (Trudgill 1974). This took on a real-time perspective
by virtue of the fact that 17 speakers aged between 10 and 25 were added who could then be
contrasted with the group of adolescents in the original 1968 sample. It is true that this
only added the comparison of the same age group duplicated by two observations at
different times, but it was nonetheless a very powerful way of demonstrating the efficacy
of a given methodology.
7. Research prospects for language variation and change in Catalan in real time
In the field
of research into Catalan, all studies of variation and change carried out to date take a
methodological approach working with apparent time. See Alturo and Turell (1990)
and Alturo (1995) for the Catalan nord-occidental dialect of the Ribagorça,
Pradilla (1995) for Valencian nord-occidental dialect, Plaza (1995) for the Catalan
of the Conca de Barberà (central Catalonia) as well as the study of linguistic
stratification of Petrer (Valencia) carried out by Gimeno and Montoya (1989). And there
are many others which have been carried out but which have not yet been published in
As I see it,
these communities constitute linguistic laboratories, and are very relevant and suited to
the implementation of "sample" type of study in real time. Such studies
can supply data that will enable us to form a clearer picture of the current state of
Catalan in terms of its internal structure, the internal and external factors that
constrain patterns of language change and variation, what the starting point is for such
changes, who are leading the changes, and the route taken. Information of this sort can
also contribute to developing a theory of language variation and change, to which we
variationists are committed and to a general theory of language, which we do not
yet have, but which we hope to be able to work towards on both theoretical and
"La variació d'haver auxiliar al Català nord-occidental". In M.T.
Turell (ed.), La sociolingüística de la variació (1995), Barcelona: PPU, p
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M.T. TURELL, "Linguistic change in El Pont de Suert: the study of variation of //. Language Variation and Change. [Cambridge] (1990),
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