Since, at base, sociolinguistics is about the linkages between language and society, inquiries into language variation are central. ‘Variation and change’ asks: Where change implies the possibility of impaired or imperfect communication, why does it occur? Even minor alterations in words, sounds, and grammar can interfere with understanding, thus hindering communication. In the broadest sense, the dynamics of group identity remain at center stage. Different languages mark communities or cultures or subcultures that wish to maintain some distinctiveness Change is sometimes ephemeral, and it may reflect unrealistic social and linguistic aspirations — but it may also be part of enduring changes in group identities.