William Labov (b. 1927) has been a driving force in linguistics for over four decades. Throughout North America, and in much of the rest of the world, his name is synonymous with sociolinguistics.
This new Guide for the Perplexed summarizes Labov's work in a number of subfields, including historical linguistics, discourse analysis and not least sociolinguistics. It also sketches a broader context for appreciating Labov's major innovations. His considerable and growing legacy is discussed with comparative glances to other ways of approaching language within linguistics and in neighboring disciplines. Since the publication of The Social Stratification of English in New York City in 1966, Labov has pushed the boundaries of sociolinguistics decade after decade but there has been no one volume guide to his work. This is that guide.
'Yes, William Labov really did establish a whole new academic field when he was a graduate student. And he has remained at the forefront of that field to this day. Matthew Gordon describes how, why, when and where this happened, and explains with great clarity the importance and excitement of it all. It's a remarkable story, and Gordon has really done it justice.' - Peter Trudgill, University of Agder, Norway