The present discussion takes a historical perspective in addressing the relationship between language change and language variation, specifically, through an examination of language variation and its connection to the historical development of physical objects. This article will examine responses elicited by the linguistic Atlas of the Middle and South Atlantic States survey for the target item ‘parlor’, contextualizing these responses within the history of the American parlor. Various home floorplans, including plans from the Historic American Building Survey, will be used to demonstrate how architectural and cultural changes have influenced the pool of American terms for ‘parlor’. What we find is that lexical variation is very much an expression of cultural and social movements, and, by looking closely at this variation, we see how language, culture, and history are tied together.

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