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17 Stylistic Variation in a Language Restricted to Private-Sphere Use (1994)

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Chapter Summary

In invoking the notion of monostylism in language decay, Dressier specifies "restriction to a very casual style used with very familiar dialogue partners about restricted topics in routine speech situations". This chapter represents an attempt to determine whether, in a language undergoing just that sort of restriction, the fundamental principle articulated by Labov and Hymes still applies, or whether in those unfavorable circumstances a lack of stylistic variation occurs which would warrant the term monostylism. For East Sutherland Gaelic (ESG), the competition comes not from any more vigorous variety of Gaelic, but from English. With the retirement of the last Gaelic-speaking minister in the late 1960s or early 1970s, Gaelic ceased to play any regular formal and public role for Embo villagers; it had ceased to play any such role for members of the other two former fishing communities of East Sutherland long since.

Keywords: East Sutherland Gaelic (ESG); Embo villagers; English; language decay; monostylism; stylistic variation



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