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American English: Dialects and Variation, 2nd Edition (Language in Society, Vol. 25) [Paperback]

Walt Wolfram , Natalie Schilling-Estes
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 2, 2005 1405112662 978-1405112666 2nd Edition
This book provides a very readable, up-to-date description of language variation in American English, covering regional, ethnic, and gender-based differences.

  • contains new chapters on social and ethnic dialects, including a separate chapter on African American English and more comprehensive discussions of Latino, Native American, Cajun English, and other varieties,

  • includes samples from a wider array of US regions

  • features updated chapters as well as pedagogy such as new exercises, a phonetic symbols key, and a section on the notion of speech community

  • accessibly written for the wide variety of students that enrol in a course on dialects, ranging from students with no background in linguistics to those who may wish to specialize in sociolinguistics

Frequently Bought Together

American English: Dialects and Variation, 2nd Edition (Language in Society, Vol. 25) + American Voices + What Is Sociolinguistics?
Price for all three: $130.39

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  • American Voices $42.14
  • What Is Sociolinguistics? $37.00

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Editorial Reviews


“This book has become a staple in the study and instruction of American English… The second edition provides the same balance of detail, clarity, breadth and sophistication offered by the first edition, but with an improved organization and up-to-date information. It is clear that the authors took seriously the task of revising and updating this new edition so that its users could enjoy the maximum benefits of its structure and contents. They will be pleased to know that their efforts were not in vain. The book will undoubtedly continue to be used as one of the key texts in the instruction of American dialects for many years to come.” Journal of Sociolinguistics

"This is an indispensable book, not just for students but for anyone who wants to know how the English language varies in the United States and how this variation has been studied… It is comprehensive, comprehensible and dense with detail." Language in Society (of the previous edition)

"The strengths of the book include its style and the authors’ consideration of how the book might actually be used as a text… the chapters are divided into subsections with helpful headings; exercises calling for creative responses by students are scattered throughout… each chapter ends with a short annotated bibliography for further readings." Language (of the previous edition)

Book Description

This up-to-date description of language variation in American English, covers regional, ethnic, and gender-based differences. The second edition includes new chapters on social and ethnic dialects. Updates to existing chapters and exercises as well as new features such as a phonetic symbols key, and a section on the notion of speech community, combine to make the new edition a valuable resource for students and specialists alike.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 472 pages
  • Publisher: Blackwell Publishing; 2nd Edition edition (September 2, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405112662
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405112666
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.3 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #306,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
The book offers much more than the title suggests. It is not only an up-to-date presentation of American English and its varieties ("white varieties," African American Vernacular English, Native American Vernacular English, and even Creole varieties). These varieties rather serve as sources of examples for a volume that covers virtually every branch of sociolinguistics, including even political issues and suggestions for dialect teaching and language reforms. The titles of the chapters are: "The Reality of Dialects," "Why Do Languages Have Dialects," "Levels of Dialect," "Dialects in the United States: Past, Present, and Future," "Regional Dialects," "Social and Ethnic Dialects," "Gender and Language Variation," "Dialects and Style," "The Patterning of Dialect," "On the Application of Dialect Studies," "Dialect Awareness in the School and Community"). The authors juxtapose a series of definitions, theories, and other issues in a fresh and sometimes untraditional manner, never forgetting to take the historical perspective into account. They are conscious of the problems inherent in generalizations and have managed to find the right middle course between a too simplistic and a too complicating presentation. At the end of each section the reader will find suggestions for further research and activities as well as further reading recommendations (including addresses of Internet sites, too). Another plus of the book is that the reading recommendations are accompanied by critical annotations. Read more ›
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid, not exhaustive November 21, 2001
A good, solid semi-introductory work on American Englishes. Not really intended for someone with absolutely no background in Linguistics, but a minimal introduction to the field should be enough. Its only real flaws are that there's a danger someone could take it to be exhaustive (I've even seen linguists who seem to believe this), and it's not quite as lively as Mencken's _The_American_language_, which may be dated but is still the best introduction to American Englishes that a non-linguist could read. (I should say, though, Wolfram and Schilling-Estes do a *much* better job than Mencken when dealing with socially marginalized varieties.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great resource January 29, 2012
This book is great for the beginning language policy students. There is more information than you probably want about regional and cultural dialects. It is probably too basic for intermediate to advanced linguistic students, but for those who are curious about how language varies from person to person in different situations, I highly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended Gem October 28, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is an extremely interesting book that is completely informative about the history of the English language and how it not only came to be what it is today but predictions about what it will become in the future. The prose is very easy to read and you find yourself pronouncing dialects out loud to just get a good idea of what it would sound like if you were from that part of the world. This was a recommended book by my professor and I was not going to purchase it but I'm glad I did considering the other two required texts are not as interesting!
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4.0 out of 5 stars needed for class December 21, 2013
By Tayluh
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
needed this book for class, was the right edition and everything, although some pages were missing. mostly the table of contents so it did not cause any problems for my studies, just would have been nice to know beforehand.
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