Date of Award

Spring 5-21-2022

Document Type

Honors Project

University Scholars Director

Dr. Christine Chaney

First Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Katya Nemtchinova


language change, media influence, sociolinguistics, variationist sociolinguistics, television, media


This survey investigates the contentious issue of media influence on language change in variationist sociolinguistics, focusing on low-level variables – a distinction created to partition phonological and morphosyntactic variables into a category that emphasizes their deep level in the linguistic system. Works by influential researchers and well-respected names in the field are put in dialogue to determine what evidence for and against media influence is compelling and where gaps exist, incorporating work on global linguistic variants and phonological variant diffusion in places like Glasgow per Jane-Stuart Smith’s controversial study. This discussion draws conclusions when possible, and ultimately comments on the limitations of existing frameworks in the task of assessing the influence of rapidly evolving media types on language change in the 21st century.


A project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University Scholars Honors Program.

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