I'm like, 'Really? You were homeschooled?': Quotative variation by high school type and linguistic style

Nola Stephens, Lauren Hall-Lew, Vicky Shamp Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous work in variationist sociolinguistics has shown that high school is a rich environment for the construction of social and linguistic styles (e.g., Bucholtz 2011; Eckert 1989; Drager 2015; Wagner 2007). However, little work has directly compared the speech of students who attend different kinds of high schools (e.g., public school versus private school), except in cases where that difference was taken an index of socioeconomic status (e.g., Lawson, Scobbie, and Stuart-Smith 2011; Carmichael 2014). Might there be meaningful stylistic differences between schooling types that index meanings other than social class? We know that students within a single high school typically participate in different Communities of Practice, and that these often correlate with different linguistic styles (e.g., Eckert 2000; Drager 2015). We have also seen linguistic differences between high school Communities of Practice persevere into college (Wagner 2014), and we have seen linguistic differences between types of high schooling which persevere into later life, at least within a single geographical region (e.g., Moore and Carter 2015; Dickson and Hall-Lew 2017). But are linguistic differences reflected more broadly among students from different kinds of schools, even across regions? In other words, is there something particular to the social landscape of one kind of high school that results in stylistic differences between that type and another type? Our work seeks to address this question by taking a regionally diverse speaker sample of roughly similar socioeconomic standing and considering how the type of high school one attends might correlate with the use of linguistic innovations. In particular, we ask whether college students’ high school background influences their use of quotative verbs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-138
JournalAmerican Speech: A Quarterly of Linguistic Usage
Issue number1
Early online date1 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • quotative verbs
  • education
  • persona style
  • gender
  • language change


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