Language Variation and Change: From Mind to Society

Featuring Bill Labov, C. Randy Gallistel, Gregory Guy, John Rickford, Tony Kroch, and Charles Yang.

This symposium is in honor of Bill Labov, Recipient of the 2013 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science.

Labov is widely recognized as the founder of sociolinguistics, the quantitative study of language structure and use. Through detailed analysis of speech across dialect boundaries and over time, Labov has identified general principles governing language variation and change, while shedding light on how the mind assimilates and responds to linguistic stimuli to form internalized linguistic knowledge and representations. He pioneered the use of statistical methods in the study of language, thereby contributing to the understanding of cognition as a probabilistic information processing system. Labov’s research on African American English has led to the recognition of non-standard dialects as complex linguistic systems in their own right, rather than imperfect deviations from the standard variety.

Free and open to the public, all are welcome!