ASEF Luncheon, April 11, 2011

William Labov will present the topic "Sound Change in Philadelphia: New Light on an Old Problem".

William Labov, Professor of Linguistics and a pioneer in the field of linguistics, has focused his distinguished career on understanding language not as a static structure but as a dynamic social system, one that is continuously moving, changing, interacting, and working. Language, to Labov, is a form of social behavior, which humans use in a social context, communicating their needs, ideals, and emotions to one another. He is the author of major studies of the social stratification of English in New York City and Philadelphia, and surveys of sound changes underway throughout the English speaking world.

It was widely expected that the dialects of American English would converge and ultimately disappear as the influence of the mass media grew. But just the reverse has happened: his 2006 work "Atlas of North American English: Phonetics, Phonology, and Sound Change", with co-authors Ash and Boberg, shows an increasing diversity in regional dialects today.