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the study of language as it affects and is affected by social relations. Sociolinguistics encompasses a broad range of concerns, including bilingualismbilingualism,
ability to use two languages. Fluency in a second language requires skills in listening comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing, although in practice some of those skills are often considerably less developed than others.
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, pidginpidgin
, a lingua franca that is not the mother tongue of anyone using it and that has a simplified grammar and a restricted, often polyglot vocabulary. The earliest documented pidgin is the Lingua Franca (or Sabir) that developed among merchants and traders in the Mediterranean
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 and creole languagescreole language
, any language that began as a pidgin but was later adopted as the mother tongue by a people in place of the original mother tongue or tongues. Examples are the Gullah of South Carolina and Georgia (based on English), the creole of Haiti (based on French), and
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, and other ways that language use is influenced by contact among people of different language communities (e.g., speakers of German, French, Italian, and Romansh in Switzerland). Sociolinguists also examine different dialects, accents, and levels of diction in light of social distinctions among people. Although accent refers strictly to pronunciation, in practice a dialect can usually be identified by the accent of its speakers as well as by distinctive words, usages, idiomatic expressions, and grammatical features. Dialects reflect and may reinforce class, ethnic, or regional differences among speakers of the same language. In some cases difference of dialect shades into difference of language. Where the line between them is not clear, groups that are linguistically distinct are considered to speak different dialects of the same language if they can generally understand each other, although what constitutes this mutual intelligibility is itself not always clear. For example, someone speaking Mandarin may not be able to understand the spoken form of another Chinese dialect but can read it, since the written form of all Chinese dialects is universal; Serbs and Croats, on the other hand, speak essentially the same language but use different alphabets to write it. Individuals sometimes deliberately change their dialect as a means of improving their social status. Speakers of any dialect or any language may modulate their vocabulary and level of diction according to social context, speaking differently in church, for example, than on the playground; social activities that tend to shape the language of those engaging in it are sometimes called registers.


See R. A. Hudson, Sociolinguistics (1980); P. Trudgill, Dialects in Contact (1986); H. Giles and N. Coupland, Language: Contexts and Consequences (1991).


a field of study, informed by both sociology and psychology, concerned with the social and cultural aspects and functions of LANGUAGE. Although sometimes narrowly identified with somewhat disparate, albeit important, topics such as language and social class (e.g. the work of Basil BERNSTEIN), language and ethnicity (e.g. Labov, 1967), language and gender, etc., potentially at least, sociolinguistics, has a much wider brief, including most aspects of language. One general area of major significance, for example, has been an emphasis on the importance of a sociological view of’linguistic competence’ and the inadequacy of a merely physiological and psychological view (e.g. Halliday's or HABERMAS's critique of CHOMSKY's theory of linguistic competence). Among further main areas of sociolinguistic concern are PRAGMATICS and SEMIOTICS. Accordingly, the argument can be advanced that sociolinguistics should be regarded as having an utterly central rather than a peripheral role within the general study of LINGUISTICS. see also COGNITIVE ANTHROPOLOGY.



(sociological linguistics), a scientific discipline based on linguistics, sociology, social psychology, and cultural anthropology and studying a broad range of problems associated with the social nature of language, the social functions of language, and the way in which social factors influence language.

The foundations of modern sociolinguistic research were laid by L. P. Iakubinskii, V. V. Vinogradov, B. A. Larin, V. M. Zhirmunskii, R. O. Shor, M. V. Sergievskii, E. D. Polivanov, and other Soviet scholars who, in the 1920’s and 1930’s, studied language as a social phenomenon. Contributions to the development of sociolinguistics were also made by the French school of sociological linguistics, which was based on the work of A. Meillet; the American ethnolinguists and sociolinguists who developed the ideas of F. Boas and E. Sapir; German scholars, especially T. Frings and the Leipzig school he founded; V. Mathesius, B. Havranek, and other representatives of the Prague school; and the Japanese school of “linguistic life.”

Unlike some schools of sociolinguistics in the USA and elsewhere, which are oriented toward behaviorism, phenomenology, G. Mead’s theory of social interaction, and other currents of bourgeois philosophy and sociology, Marxist sociolinguistics is based on historical materialism and specific theories of Marxist sociology, including the theory of the social structure of society, the theory of social systems, and the sociology of the personality. It is also based on the study of language as the most important means of human communication, the study of the role of language in the formation and development of nations, and the study of the social functions of languages and dialects.

Sociolinguistics investigates the relationship between language and a nation and studies the national language as a historical category associated with the formation of a nation. It examines the social differentiation of language on all levels of structure and, in particular, the nature of the interrelationships between linguistic and social structures. It is also concerned with the typology of linguistic situations in which the various languages and dialects used by a given group have different social functions. In addition, it studies the principles according to which languages interact under various social conditions; the social aspects of bilingualism, multilingualism, and diglossia (the interaction of different subsystems within the same language that are used in different social contexts); speech in the context of a social situation; and language policy as one of the forms of a society’s conscious influence on language.

The methods of sociolinguistics are a synthesis of linguistic and sociological research methods. Sociolinguistics makes use of questionnaires, interviews, observation in which the observer himself functions as a participant in the act of communication, sociological experimentation, and certain methods of mathematical statistics. It also employs modeling of socially determined speech by means of “sociolinguistic rules”—socially conditioned rules for the generation of utterances, variation, and joint occurrence of linguistic units—and analysis based on the correlation of linguistic and social phenomena as dependent and independent variables.


Desheriev, lu. D. Zakonomernosti razvitiia i vzaimodeistviia iazykov v sovetskom obshchestve. Moscow, 1966.
lazykiobshchestvo. Moscow, 1968.
Voprosysotsial’noilingvistiki. Leningrad, 1969.
Zakonomernosti razvitiia literaturnykh iazykov narodov SSSR v sovetskuiu epokhu, vols. 1-3. Moscow, 1969-73.
Shveitser, A. D. Voprosy sotsiologii iazyka v sovremennoi amerikanskoi lingvistike. Leningrad, 1971.
Problemy dvuiazychiia i mnogoiazychiia. Moscow, 1972.
Baziev, A. T., and M. I. Isaev. lazykinatsiia. Moscow, 1973.
Sotsiolingvisticheskie problemy razvivaiushchikhsia stran. Moscow, 1975.
Novoe v lingvistike, issue 7. Moscow, 1975. (Translated from English.)
Directions in Sociolinguistics. New York, 1972.
Labov, W. Sociolinguistic Patterns. Philadelphia, 1972.


References in periodicals archive ?
Having described a taxonomy or model of interview based adherence-monitoring styles, and having suggested that there are logical, sociolinguistically determined strengths and weaknesses in these varying styles, it is appropriate to ask whether monitoring style is indeed consequential for the identification of adherence problems?
In other words, the relation between language and social identity is predominantly a sociolinguistically distant one.
Culturally and sociolinguistically speaking, Jones (2004) proposed that culture is a causal factor in language anxiety, given that "a concept of face exists, doubtless, in every society and plays a part in inhibiting interaction for vast numbers of people whose grasp of a foreign language is imperfect" (p.
This is neither historically nor sociolinguistically correct: historically the ordering of these forms is 2-3-1; sociolinguistically 3-2-1; and though Scottish Standard English originated in the efforts of Scots-speakers to learn and use metropolitan English, the period when its status was that of a mere foreign accent was very short and is patently long past.
It set forth to ask and answer questions related to the mechanisms that cause linguistic variation and the routes taken by linguistic change, and it showed that although it is possible that certain linguistic facts are constrained only by internal linguistic factors, the majority of linguistic units, facts and phenomena are sociolinguistically based and so both internal and external factors have to be taken into account.
These may be on the one hand sociolinguistically based, like fashion, prestige, group identity, and on the other hand functionally based: Once a new optional stylistic device has acquired a rather high functional load, it may be considered highly obligatory and such become part of the grammar of the language.
It is sometimes considered as a "London" and not an "Estuary" feature though it is difficult to ascertain, in the absence of socioeconomically stratified and sociolinguistically sophisticated analyses, how such judgments are made.
The Switchboard Corpus has 542 speakers ranging in age from 20-60 years and sociolinguistically tagged by educational level and provenance from one of seven main dialect areas within the United States.
Sociolinguistically, they might be isolated as the items to which we have most natural and regular recourse in contexts such as talking to foreigners or to young children (1990: 63).
Early modern women might well feel demoralized by this exclusion: 'It was not only bigotry, lack of education, lack of self-confidence, and lack of resources, but something sociolinguistically encoded in usages of their societies that operated to prevent them from having a voice' (p.
Chambers favors a Neuropsychological Theory (1995:132f), based on cognitive literature which shows women to be more linguistically competent across the board, not just sociolinguistically.
Benskin's parallel from modern dialectology points to two major problems involved in the technique, namely that the density of modern dialectological data, and the use of spoken evidence, cannot easily be compared with written data from Middle English times, and both the |fit' technique and modern localizations rely to a great extent on the problematic assumption that dialects and ideolects are more homogeneous than is sociolinguistically plausible.