OverviewThe course offers an introduction to major themes in sociolinguistics. It will begin by exploring how our notions of 'language', 'dialect' or ‘style’ are constructed, and from there explore notions of ‘correctness’ in language, and their origins. It will then consider how social relationships are reflected and encoded in different languages, for example in kinship terms, terms of address, or politeness forms, and how individuals are placed – or place themselves – socially through their linguistic choices.
The middle part of the module will explore language variation and change, and the social parameters which correlate with them. It will conclude by analysing issues arising from the interplay between language and identity in multilingual societies: bi- and multilingualism, code-switching, language death and its causes, language revival and language revitalisation.
This module appears in:
Total Contact Hours: 20
Method of assessment
Main assessment methods
This module will be assessed by 40% coursework and 60% examination.
• Essay (1,500 words) – 30%
• Group Presentation (15 minutes) – 10%
• Examination (2 hours) – 60%
Reading list (Indicative list, current at time of publication. Reading lists will be published annually)
Blake, B. (2008) All About Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Fasold, R. (2004) The Sociolinguistics of Society. Oxford: Blackwell.
Milroy, L. & M. Gordon (2003) Sociolinguistics: Method and Interpretation. Oxford: Blackwell.
Wardhaugh, R. & J. Fuller (2015) An Introduction to Sociolinguistics (Seventh edition). Oxford: Wiley.
Trudgill, P. (2005) Sociolinguistics (Fifth edition). London: Penguin.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
Understand and use the basic conceptual terminology of sociolinguistics (e.g. variable, diglossia, code-switching, style, register, variety);
Show how language and social factors are inter-related;
Understand the significance of sociolinguistic data as presented in charts and graphs;
Evaluate critically the social bases for linguistic value judgements;
Understand the technical (and ethical) problems of sociolinguistic data collection.