Abstract and Keywords
Spoken language exhibits variability at multiple levels of linguistic structure. This chapter focuses on phonetic variation in speech, as governed by social categories and social functions. Before addressing socially meaningful variation in production, the way in which phonetic variation naturally makes its way into the speech chain through the mechanisms of speech production is described. A succinct history of sociolinguistic approaches to variation is provided, along with discussions of variation in production and perception from a laboratory phonology perspective. This provides a range of views on the topic, from macrosociologic perspectives to more microlevels in both naturalistic and experimentally controlled settings. This chapter argues that successful research on variation in speech production should build on current trends in the field by incorporating a range of methods and examining more fully the context under which speech is produced.
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