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Paolillo, John C. (2002) Analyzing Linguistic Variation: Statistical Models and Methods, CSLI Publications. Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/13/13-2564.html John J. Stevens, University of North Carolina at Wilmington ''Analyzing Linguistic Variation: Statistical Models and Methods'' by John C. Paolillo explains the statistics of logistic regression within the context of variationist linguistics. The book's main purpose is to go beyond the simple instructional manuals of the popular statistical software packages by providing a convenient resource to researchers who seek answers to common questions as well as a more comprehensive explanation of the principles underlying statistical models of variation. The book examines all aspects of the most commonly used analytical tool in sociolinguistic variationist studies, VARBRUL, a multiple regression computer program developed by David Sankoff based on William Labov's (1969) notion of the variable rule. The author evaluates VARBUL in the light of other statistical techniques used in the social sciences and attempts to relate variationist methods to more formal models of linguistics. This book assumes no previous familiarity with statistics. It is written with three different audiences in mind: graduate students and researchers who are looking for a guide that explains how to conduct variationist linguistic analyses; more experienced researchers seeking answers to recurring problems not adequately addressed in the currently available literature; and researchers from other areas of linguistics who need to relate variationist analyses to the theoretical models current in their own sub-fields. The volume is organized into ten chapters and includes appendices, references, and an index. The first chapter serves as a general introduction and provides information about the fundamental concepts that are key to understanding variationist linguistic analysis and its goals such as variable rules, chance occurrence, probability, hypothesis testing, modeling, and the nature of different types of data. Chapter 1 also gives a partial taxonomy of statistical analysis procedures and explains the reasons why VARBRUL is the most widely used program for variationist analysis. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 address most directly the first audience mentioned above by focusing on the practical aspects of performing variationist linguistic analysis. Chapter 2 outlines the goals of variationist research and considers issues that may affect the interpretation of the results of statstical analysis. Chapter 3 discusses the types of data required for analysis by VARBRUL and other software programs (i.e., raw data, tokens, and contingency tables) and describes procedures for recoding data in order to achieve different research goals such as testing for significant factor groups and identifying interaction among factor groups. Chapter 4 explains the steps involved in running an actual VARBRUL analysis and includes information on how to read the results and assess the model of variation in terms of ''goodness-of- fit,'' or how well the statistical model fits the variation observed in the data (see Young and Bayley 1996). Chapters 5, 6, 7, and 8 present the underlying statistical principles involved in variationist linguistic methodology. Chapter 5 describes the fundamentals of contingency tables analysis, introduces the chi- square test of independence, and lays the foundation for logistic regression modeling, which is further developed in subsequent chapters. Chapter 6 examines the analytical structure of regression models and explains how their components are used to assess competing models of a set of data. Chapter 7 describes the measure of variance known as log- likelihood and explains how the likelihood ratio test can be used to achieve an optimal model of variation. Chapter 8 presents the logistic regression model itself and discusses the procedures and software used to assess model fit. The final two chapters consider variationist linguistic methods within the larger theoretical context of statistics and linguistics. Chapter 9 relates the logistic regression model to log-linear models and general linear models and compares and contrasts the assumptions, uses, and limitations of each. Chapter 10 examines the notion of the variable rule within the larger context of formal models of language and extends the Variable Rule model to other models of language such as Optimality Theory and Default Inheritance. This book is written in an engaging, straightforward style appropriate for graduate students and professionals in the field who are interested in conducting variationist linguistic research. Although the text contains numerous typographical errors, context generally allows the reader to identify them as such without any loss in meaning. Paolillo uses many tables and figures to illustrate his explanations and main points. Particularly useful are the figures and tables used in Chapter 4, ''Conducting Variationist Analyses,'' which exemplify the actual print-outs given in a multivariate analysis as performed by the VARBRUL software program. In addition to leading the reader step by step through the analysis, the author provides information on how to read and interpret the results files of the print-outs. Unlike other books on statistical methods, this manual provides linguistic examples from actual variationist studies, many of which may already be familiar to the reader (e.g, Labov's [1972] study of (r) deletion in New York City department stores). These examples may serve as potential models for researchers and assist them in the conception of their own investigations of linguistic variables. Each chapter ends with a ''Further Reading'' section, which provides references to works that may provide answers to questions that go beyond the scope of this volume. In Chapter 3, ''Variable Linguistic Data,'' Paolillo discusses the management of different forms of data and explains procedures for coding and recoding data. However, for most of the technical details of preparing data for statistical analysis, the reader is referred to the specific instructions for whatever software package is used. The author does provide invaluable information on where to obtain statistical analysis software in Appendix 1, which gives the addresses (URLs) where several versions of VARBRUL may be downloaded free of charge from the Internet. These VARBRUL software programs currently include versions for the Macintosh and PC platforms as well as a newly- available version re-written for Microsoft Windows called GoldVarb 2001. The book provides complete references for all works cited. Although the index is comprehensive, the volume would have benefited form the inclusion of a glossary of terms. Such a glossary would be particularly useful to those unfamiliar with the specialized vocabulary of statistical analysis. In addition, instructions on how to write up the results of a variationist linguistic analysis would have been helpful, especially for novice researchers not sure about what information, including tables, figures, and measures of fit, should be reported in a written results section. ''Analyzing Linguistic Variation'' brings together a wealth of information from several fields to explain the principles of logistic regression as it is applied in the analysis of linguistic variation. It will be especially suitable as a textbook for graduate students learning how to perform variationist linguistic analyses for the first time. It will also prove to be an indispensable resource for more experienced researchers who seek a deeper understanding of the statistical bases of VARBRUL. REFERENCES Labov, William. (1969) ''Contraction, deletion, and inherent variability of the English copula.'' Language, 45:715-762. Labov, William. (1972) ''The social stratification of (r) in New York City department stores.'' In Sociolinguistic Patterns, pp. 43-69. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Young, Richard, and Robert Bayley. (1996) ''VARBRUL analysis for second language acquisition research.'' Second Language Acquisition and Linguistic Variation, ed. by R. Bayley and D. Preston, 253-306. Philadelphia: John Benjamins. ABOUT THE REVIEWER John J. Stevens is Assistant Professor of Spanish at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He is currently conducting research on variation in the interlanguage of learners of Spanish as a second language.Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue