Language, Self and Society - LL304

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Spring 4 15 (7.5) DR D Hornsby checkmark-circle


The 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 the following module collections.

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

Essay (1,500 words) – 30%
Group Presentation (15 minutes) – 10%
Examination (2 hours) – 60%

Indicative reading

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.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

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.


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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