Barbara Johnstone

Commentary: Sociolinguists and the news media

As the chapters in this section show, there is a difference between how the news media construct the categories and meanings of linguistic variation and how linguists do. Many sociolinguists have found this out for ourselves: we take the time and energy to talk to journalists about our work only to find our accounts twisted or ignored in the resulting reports, which often seem to be more about confirming what laypeople already thought they knew than about challenging it. There was a time in the history of linguistics when it was possible to say, simply, that linguists were the experts about language and other people were not, that we were right and they were unenlightened, and ...

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