chapter  1
4 Pages

Introduction

Variation is a pervasive fact of language. Every time we speak, we make choices that shape the language we use and that influence the linguistic choices of other speakers. Despite the fact of variation, it is often viewed as a problem in linguistics. Sapir’s double-edged lament, cited above, is not uncommon in descriptive and theoretical studies, in which variation is acknowledged only in footnotes or passed over in silence. In linguistics programs, the discussion of variation is often relegated to the last few weeks of introductory courses or taught in upper-year elective courses. As students, many of us often wondered whether there is any connection between linguistics and linguistic variation.