Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

La variació lingüística: el fet i la seva significació

Joan A. Argenter


This study is a general presentation of the phenomenon of linguistic variation, from the point of view both of its empirical reality and of its semiotic, linguistic and socio-pragmatic analysis. We distinguish initially between the interest in research into the invariant form, which has characterized strict linguistics, and the orientation of sociolingüístics towards the study of variation; between the
concentration on the referential value of language as an arbitrary symbol and the concentration on the connotative value of language
as an index of social relations; between the limitation on the consideration of category alternation (allophony) and research into
structured variation (sociolingüístic variables); and between variation of a statistical character (such as the ones just mentioned) and variation based on discrete oppositions. The linguistic realities defined by the study of variation—styles, levels of language, natural
varieties, registers—must be described not only in terms internal to the linguistic system but also in their relation to the social and
sociocultural context; this terminological diversity reflects on occasions different linguistic modalities, and on others distinct
methodological approaches, among which we stress the importance of the ethnography.