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How To Find Variance


How To Find Variance

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How To Find Variance

How To Find Variance

Variance in Standard American English

Standard American English (SAE), also known as General American, is the dominant dialect of English spoken in the United States. Like all languages, SAE exhibits variation, which refers to the differences in pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and usage that exist among speakers of the same language. This article explores the various sources and types of variance in SAE and provides practical guidance on how to identify and analyze it.

Sources of Variance
Variance in SAE can arise from several sources, including:

  1. Regional Dialects: The United States is a large country with diverse geographical regions, each with its own dialect. For example, speakers from the Northeast tend to pronounce the "r" sound more strongly than speakers from the South.
  2. Social Class: Language use often reflects social status and class affiliation. For instance, certain vocabulary choices or grammatical constructions may be more prevalent among certain socioeconomic groups.
  3. Gender: While there are no distinct "male" or "female" dialects, some studies suggest that men and women may exhibit subtle differences in language use, such as in the frequency of certain speech acts.
  4. Age: Language can change over time, and older generations may use different vocabulary and expressions than younger generations.
  5. Education: Formal education can influence language use, as individuals exposed to higher levels of education may have a wider vocabulary and more complex grammatical structures.
  6. Occupation: Language can vary depending on one’s occupation or profession. For example, lawyers may use specialized legal jargon, while scientists may employ technical vocabulary.

Types of Variance

Variance in SAE can manifest itself in various ways:

  1. Phonological Variance: This refers to differences in pronunciation, including vowel sounds, consonant sounds, stress patterns, and intonation.
  2. Morphological Variance: This involves variations in the formation of words, such as the use of different suffixes or prefixes.
  3. Syntactic Variance: This encompasses differences in sentence structure, word order, and grammatical constructions.
  4. Lexical Variance: This concerns variations in vocabulary, including the use of different words, expressions, or phrases.
  5. Semantic Variance: This pertains to differences in the meanings of words or phrases.
  6. Pragmatic Variance: This relates to differences in how language is used in social contexts, such as politeness strategies, turn-taking conventions, and speech acts.

How to Find Variance

Identifying and analyzing variance in SAE can be achieved through various methods:

  1. Language Corpora: These are large collections of written and spoken language data that researchers use to study language usage. Corpora can provide valuable insights into the frequency and distribution of different linguistic features.
  2. Linguistic Atlases: These are maps that depict the geographical distribution of linguistic features, such as pronunciation or grammatical constructions. Linguistic atlases can help researchers visualize and analyze regional dialects.
  3. Sociolinguistic Interviews: Researchers can conduct interviews with speakers from different backgrounds to collect data on language variation. These interviews can provide insights into the social and contextual factors that influence language use.
  4. Participant Observation: Linguists may observe speakers in natural settings to record and analyze their language use. This method can help researchers capture the dynamic and situated nature of language variation.
  5. Corpus Linguistics: This field involves the use of computational tools to analyze large language datasets. Corpus linguists can use software programs to identify and quantify linguistic patterns and variations.

Importance of Variance

Variance in SAE is essential for the vitality and adaptability of the language. It allows for diversity and flexibility in communication and reflects the diverse cultural and social backgrounds of its speakers. Recognizing and understanding variance promotes tolerance, inclusivity, and cross-cultural communication.


Variance is a fundamental aspect of Standard American English, reflecting the diverse and dynamic nature of the language. Through various methods, researchers and language enthusiasts can identify and analyze variance to gain insights into the social, cultural, and historical factors that shape language use. Understanding variance promotes linguistic awareness and appreciation for the richness and complexity of SAE.


1. Is it important to eliminate variance in English?
No. Variance is a natural and essential aspect of language. It allows for diversity, flexibility, and adaptability in communication.

2. What are the negative effects of variance?
Variance can sometimes lead to misunderstandings or communication barriers if speakers are not aware of different linguistic conventions.

3. How can we learn to understand different varieties of SAE?
By being exposed to different dialects and social groups through travel, media, or social interactions, we can develop an understanding and appreciation for the diversity of language use.

4. Is variance the same as dialect?
Variance encompasses all types of linguistic variation, while a dialect is a specific variety of language spoken by a particular group of people.

5. How can I improve my own language skills in SAE?
By reading widely, listening to diverse sources of audio and video content, and interacting with speakers from different backgrounds, we can expand our vocabulary, improve our pronunciation, and gain a better understanding of standard English conventions.