This article explores two variables that largely have been ignored in studies of language variation and language change: frequency and individual speaker. In doing so, it demonstrates the usefulness of the A-curve, an asymptotic hyperbolic graphic representation of language variation based on usage. Data are drawn from varieties of English: two Afro-Caribbean vernaculars (Antiguan and Negerhollands) and East Sutherland Gaelic. Because both Negerhollands and East Sutherland Gaelic were moribund when the data discussed here were collected and both are characterized by personally patterned variation, the histories of these varieties are briefly considered. The article concludes that both frequency and individual speaker are essential for a full understanding of the ways in which language users deploy their linguistic resources and, thus, are critical for our understanding of human language.

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