Suggest a general typological difference betwee

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suggest a general typological difference betwee standardised and non-standardised varieties. If this is the case, then it would of course be possible to predict at least this part of the social status of a variety on the basis of a linguistic description. The view was expressed (based on Romance data), that a full description of the syntax of a variety could give some indication of its social status, particularly if the description included information about which syntactic structures were frequently used (HARRlS), but it was objected that the basis of these predictions about social status was not purely internal to the structures of the varieties concerned. Moreover, the Belfast data may be typical not so much of a non-standard variety, but rather of a newly formed dialect mixture (TRUDGILL). Moreover, the relative statuses of Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia are reversed as between Malaysia and Indonesia – one dominates in Malaysia, the other in Indonesia – so social status must be arbitrary in relation to linguistic structure (LE PAGE). By the end of the discussion, participants seemed to be generally in favour of the traditional view that structural differences between standard and non-standard varieties were probably arbitrary, and that the social status of a variety could not be predicted from a description of its grammar alone. D. Conclusions In relation to our original questions, we seem to have arrived at the following conclusions: a. The hypothesis of linguistic equality can be taken in relation to varieties of language (language/dialect/register/idiolect) or linguistic repertoires (of an individual or of a community); in relation to structural, communicative or cognitive equality; and in relation to actual or potential equality. The most “liberal” interpretation would be that all linguistic repertoires are potentially equal from a communicative point of view: 9
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given the right social circumstances, all speakers (and communities) have an equal ability to develop a linguistic repertoire to suit their communicative needs. This version of the hypothesis is probably true. b. But it is certainly not true that all varieties are equally good as resources for satisfying every communicative need, or that all varieties contain the same range of structural patterns. However, the differences between varieties are specific , so each variety will have areas of strength as well as of weakness. Moreover, the crucial question is to what extent these differences provide problems for people, and in this connection the notion of a linguistic repertoire is much more relevant than that of a variety. 10
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  • Winter '08
  • Amos,Y
  • J. Milroy, linguistic equality, Linguistics Association of Great Britain

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