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Social Saturdays’ posts look at the social side of language. After all, language isn’t just a way to communicate, it is communication.

I’m currently reading the some 800 pages of The Handbook of Language Change and Variation. An interesting read, if depressingly long. I’m on page 41.

Labov, the father of sociolinguistics, categorised linguistics into where the practitioners of a particular branch could be found: “the library, the bush, the closet, the laboratory… [or] the street”.

The historical linguist, the part of me that wrote this post, for example, can be found in the library. Now, I love a good library, but it’s not where I want to do my research.

The anthropological linguist, found in the sparsely populated bush, sounds more like me. Interested in uncommon or under-studied languages, which often are dying, they would look into things like this, but are these studies that insightful? How challenging is it to study a field where nothing you say will be questioned, because there are no differing opinions – or no proof to them, if there are?

The fact that Labov said that the introspective linguist could be found in the closet made the child in me giggle, but he’s referring not to the closet people come out of, but to theoretical linguistics, interesting in their own linguistic usage.

The laboratory where the psycholinguists can be found; people interested in how humans speak and communicate. The part of me interested in this wrote this post.

However, my linguistic home is in the street; talking to real people, listening to how they speak and communicate. This is called sociolinguistics, and my interest in it gave rise to this post.

What about you; what branch are you interested in?