Gender and the Third Wave of variation study


  • Penelope Eckert Stanford University



gender, persona, social categories, social meaning, stylistic practice, Third Wave, variation


In the past thirty years, the study of sociolinguistic variation has moved its focus ‘inside’ the speaker – from macrosocial categories to local categories, to the personae that inhabit categories and to the stylistic practice in which personae entangle themselves in the social landscape. This latter stage has commonly been called the Third Wave and is indeed inspired by third wave feminism, as the focus has turned from the gender binary to the range of gendered personae. This article traces my participation in these developments, beginning with the Berkeley Women and Language Group conferences and unfolding in a student-run seminar at Stanford.

Author Biography

  • Penelope Eckert, Stanford University

    Penelope Eckert is Professor Emerita of Linguistics and (by courtesy) Anthropology at Stanford University. Her research focuses on sound change, stylistic practice and the social meaning of linguistic variation, combining ethnographic methods for data collection with quantitative analyses of phonetic variation. She is author of the high school ethnography Jocks and Burnouts (Teachers College Press, 1989), as well as Linguistic Variation as Social Practice (Blackwell, 2000) and Meaning and Linguistic Variation (Cambridge University Press, 2018), and co-author of Language and Gender (with Sally McConnell-Ginet, Cambridge University Press, 2013[2003]).


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Theme Series

How to Cite

Eckert, P. (2021). Gender and the Third Wave of variation study. Gender and Language, 15(2), 242–248.