A Grammar of Gujarati by Raimond Doctor

By Raimond Doctor

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The contemporary Cardiff folkhero, singer and broadcaster Frank Hennessey, 1 has as one of his catchwords remarkable ([ ]), and, as his radio programme jingle, a sung fanfare dominated by the vowel-quality [æ:] in Hark hark the lark in Cardiff Arm's Park! At one level, these lexical forms are a vehicle for the phonological variable; but their availability in turn reinforces and compounds the social significance of the variable itself. In this instance, regional pronunciation and local experience have a mutually encouraging, we might say symbiotic, relationship.

The same objection underlies the rather uncharitable view expressed by Halliday (1978:108), that 'sociolinguistics sometimes appears to be a search for answers which have no questions'. It might be fairer to say that Labov has begun to answer many of the central descriptive questions relating to linguistic variation, how some language communities are structured and how dialects change over time, and now we can move on to more interpretive questions. 'Why' questions cannot ultimately be satisfactorily answered through correlational studies, where social categories and linguistic phenomena are separately defined and their co-variation is examined.

Cardiffians may have limited opportunities to talk of hay-lofts, seed-baskets and newts, and any corpus of observed speech may in any case exclude the particular lexical items by chance. Direct questioning of informants is the only reasonable alternative. All the lexical forms labelled Welsh English forms by Thomas were complied to form a short, informal questionnaire, put to fifty randomly selected native Cardiff speakers in street-interviews. The subjects were asked if they (a) recognised and (if so) (b) used any of the listed words; if they did use them, (c) in what contexts and with what senses.

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