Abstract and Keywords
A sociolinguist who has gathered so much data that it has become difficult to make sense of the raw observations can turn to graphical presentation, and to descriptive statistics, techniques for distilling a collection of data into a few key numerical values, allowing the researcher to focus on specific, meaningful properties of the data set. A sociolinguist evaluates hypotheses about the connections between linguistic behavior, speakers, and society. The researcher begins this process by gathering data with the potential to falsify the hypotheses under consideration. Inferential statistics allow the researcher to compute the probability that a hypothesized property of the data is due to chance, and to estimate the magnitude of the hypothesized effect. This chapter compares inferential methods appropriate for sociolinguistic data in terms of these assumptions. It examines elements of qualitative analysis and methods for binary analysis, multinomial variables, and continuous variables.
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