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“Big Bright Lights” Versus “Green And Pleasant Land”?: The Unhelpful Dichotomy Of ‘Urban’ Versus ‘Rural’ In Dialectology

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Chapter Summary

This chapter argues that there is nothing at all that is essentially urban about variationist social dialectology. It begins by looking at the reasons why dialectology, which once shunned cities altogether, abandoned rural areas and turned to examine urban centres. Then, by drawing on the work of urban and rural geographers, the chapter shows that while urban and rural areas certainly trigger very distinct images and attitudes in our minds, there are in fact no absolute differences between themthere are no causal social processes which affect urban areas but not rural, or vice versa. Indeed such geographers quite openly admit that urban and rural are extremely difficult terms to define robustly. It ends by exemplifying the fact that one factor which is crucial in determining variation and changedialect contactalthough often associated with research in citiesproduces typologically the same outcomes in both urban and rural locales.

Keywords: dialect contact; rural locales; social dialectology; Trudgill; urban areas



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