Originally published in 1981. Verbal deficit theories try to account for differential educational attainments in linguistic terms, suggesting that children reach varying levels of success in school as a result of their ability or inability to express themselves, and relate this to social class. This critique considers such theories, especially in the form propounded by Bernstein, primarily from a sociolinguistic viewpoint but with special attention to the historical and educational context behind the theories. It claims that verbal deficit theories are not only unscientific and non-linguistic, but are educationally damaging as well, and proposes instead a linguistic ‘difference’ theory.
Introduction 1. Differential Educational Attainment 2. ‘Classical’ Verbal Deficit Theory 3. Bernstein’s Sociolinguistic Theory 4. Challenges and Alternatives 5. Verbal Deficit Theories in Context. Conclusion and Prospect. Appendices
Reissuing works originally published between 1978 and 1992, this collection includes books across the span of sociolinguistics, from its theory and philosophy to specific language change study. This small set will be of benefit to sociology and linguistics but also to psychology, media and communication, education and development studies.