Real Time, Apparent Time and Age Grading

Noora Abu Ain


This paper intends to highlight three sociolinguistic concepts, namely apparent time, real time and age grading. It reviews the origin and importance of these three sociolinguistic constructs in relation to variationist sociolinguistics. It shows how these concepts are necessary to conduct and interpret statistical sociolinguistic data. Without a full grasp of such concepts, sociolinguists might fail to interpret their statistical data correctly. Within the apparent-time construct, researchers can take synchronic cross-sectional samples, instead of the time consuming longitudinal samples, in order to describe or interpret a linguistic change in any speech community. The real-time evidence, on the other hand, can be accomplished by searching the literature for similar previous studies or by repeating the studies after a lapse of time. Finally, the age-grading construct helps researchers distinguish between real changes in progress and temporary changes that often recur due to various social factors and/or pressures.

Keywords: real-time, apparent-time, age-grading, variationist sociolinguistics, language change

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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