In this survey of the study of language and society, we look at how language is actually used, how people feel about it-- how the two are often opposed -- and how the structure of language interacts with both. We consider language as a resource to convey cultural and personal identity, and what it reveals of language attitudes and social structure -- and therefore of status and inequality in areas such as social class, gender, age, and ethnicity. We see how social identity illuminates variation in language, and learn about such topics as regional and social dialects, code-switching and bilingualism, pidgin & creole languages, rules of discourse, language rights, and speech in public arenas (the workplace, the courts, in healthcare).
(Terms 1 and 2 will be taught by different instructors in 2012-13. Contents of Term 2 will be determined by that instructor.)
By the end of Term 1 you will understand:
* the basic principles of sociolinguistics, dialectology and language variation.
* how different varieties and features of language spread, change or disappear.
* the key findings of variationist sociolinguistics, examining language variation and the social, linguistic and contextual characteristics which help to shape it.
* how the social uses and functions of language affect linguistic systems.
*both small- (individual & small-group) and large-scale (national & societal) sociolinguistic patterns, investigated through case studies of dozens of different speech communities.
Weekly schedule (Term 1):
2 Course intro. Language histories. Definitions & concepts. Language functions/varieties.
3 Dialectology & dialect geography. Standard languages.
4 Language Norms and Attitudes.
5 Language Rights as Human Rights.
6 Sociolinguistic Variation: Basic concepts.
7 Sociolinguistic Variation: Social Class.
8 Sociolinguistic Variation: Language Style.
9 Reading week.
10 Sociolinguistic Variation: Language change; Gender I.
11 Sociolinguistic Variation: Sex and Gender II. Social Networks
Details of schedule and topics may change at instructor's discretion.
This part of the module covers topics in multilingualism under two headings:
This part of the course covers topics in multilingualism under two headings: (i) multilingualism at the level of the individual. In this section topics covered are language choice, diglossia, and code-switching. (ii) multilingualism at the societal level. This part deals with the co-existence of more than one language within the same community and covers maintenance and shift, and the linguistic outcome of contact as demonstrated in Pidgin and Creole languages.
Syllabus (Term 2):
Wk 16. General introduction: multilingualism as a source of diversity, facts and figures.
Wk 17. Language choice: who speaks which language to whom and when, the tree model; the diglossia model. Reading: Hoffmann, Ch. 9, Apple & Muysken, Ch. 3.
Wk 18. Individual multilingualism: basic concepts and definitions; early and contemporary research on individual multilingualism. Reading: Hoffmann, Ch. 1; Romaine Ch. 3 (section 3.4).
Wks 19 & 20. Aspects of bilingual behaviour: interference, borrowing and code-switching. Reading: Hoffmann, Ch. 5, Romaine, Ch. 4.
Wk 21. Consultation and reading week; no class.
Wk 22. Societal multilingualism: causes, consequences and patterns. Reading: Hoffmann, Ch 8; Romaine, Ch. 2.
Wk 23. Language maintenance and language shift. Reading: Hoffman, Ch's 9 & 10, Edwards, Ch , Apple & Muysken , Ch 4.
Wk 24. Cases of multilingual societies' histories and dynamics: Ireland. Spain, Alsace.
Wk 25. Language contact: Pidgins and Creoles. Reading: Romaine, An introduction to sociolinguistics. Ch 6.
Learning & Teaching Methods
One 2-hr lecture per week x 20 weeks (10 in term 1, 10 in term 2); two 2-hr revision classes (term 3).
Instructor in Term 1 is Prof. PL Patrick; instructor for Term 2 is Dr. Enam Al-Wer.
50 per cent Coursework Mark, 50 per cent Exam Mark
3-hour Exam (50%), plus one 3000-word assignment in each term (25% + 25% = 50%).
LG232 Rules of Assessment - Rule: both items equally weighted.
ITEM/WEIGHT/ DEADINE, DATE & TIME - Assignment 1/ 50%/Thursday 13th September 2012 (Week 11). Assignment 2/ 50%/Thursday 25th April 2013.
Exam Duration and Period
3:00 hour exam during Summer Examination period.
3-hour examination, plus one 3000-word assingment in each term.
Assignment 1 Deadline - Thursday 12 December 2013 (week 11)
Assignment 2 Deadline - Thursday 24th April 2014 (week 30)
Course webpage for last year's term 1 contains much more detailed information about the course including, calendar, assingments, reading lists, online notes and weblinks. Some information will change for the coming year. A recent coursepage is available on line at
- TERM ONE:
Rajend Mesthrie, Joan Swann, Ana Deumert & William L. Leap. 2009, 2nd ed. Introducing Sociolinguistics. John Benjamins.
Meyerhoff, Miriam. 2011 (2nd ed.). Introducing Sociolinguistics. Routledge.
Chambers, JK. 2009. 3rd ed. Sociolinguistic Theory. Blackwell.
Meyerhoff, M & E Schleef eds. 2010. The Routledge Sociolinguistics Reader
N Coupland & A Jaworski, eds. 2009. The New Sociolinguistics Reader (Palgrave)
TERM TWO: To be confirmed