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Construction of valid attitudinal data in investigations of linguistic variation and change

Abstract/Résumé: I have been involved with extensive long-standing survey studies of language attitudes in the Nordic countries. These studies concern the role of social values and evaluations in linguistic variation and change. They include investigations of the evaluative relationship between ‘non-standard’ varieties and the ‘standard’ variety, as well as investigations of the evaluative relationship between the ‘national language’ and English (as the language of globalization). In my talk, I shall draw on our experiences from the above-mentioned investigations and present a selection of results from different approaches to data collection and analysis – in order to discuss these results in terms of the role of contextual elements and speakers’ categorizations in investigations of language attitudes. The main claim that emerges from our Nordic studies is: As long as the research interest concerns the role of attitudes as an ingredient of the ‘mechanisms’ of language variation and change… … it is of paramount importance to construe (conceptualize and operationalize) data collection contexts that allow for a clear distinction between overtly (consciously) and covertly (subconsciously) offered attitudes… .. because only covert attitudes are involved as a driving force in linguistic variation and change. General hypothesis: Subconsciously offered evaluations are valid data in studies of linguistic variation and change in a way that consciously offered attitudes are not. Presentations of the studies in question are available in English: Kristiansen, Tore. 2009. The macro-level social meanings of late-modern Danish accents. Acta Linguistica Hafniensia 41, 167–192. Kristiansen, Tore. 2010. Conscious and subconscious attitudes towards English Imports in the Nordic countries: Evidence for two levels of language ideology. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 204. 59–95.