Contents 1. Definition of Sociolinguistics 2. Origins and main figures 3. Areas of Sociolinguistics 4. Language and gender 5. An instance of empirical studies 6. Conclusion
1.DEFINITION OF SOCIOLINGUISTICS Descriptive study – how society influences language “Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of, including cultural, expectations, and context, on the way is used, and the effects of language use on society”. “…The focus of sociolinguistics is the effect of the society on the language, (…)” “It also studies how language varieties differ between groups separated by certain social variables, e.g., ethnicity, religion, status, gender, level of education, age, etc (...)”. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sociolinguistics).
Sociolinguistic investigation – language study within social context (Trudgill) “The aim of sociolinguistic investigation is to achieve a further progress in the knowledge of nature and the operation of human language by the study of language in its social context. Besides, all Sociolinguistics is language and society but, however, not all language and society are Sociolinguistics” (Trudgill, 2000). Interdisciplinary science (Campoy & Almeida) “Sociolinguistics is an interdisciplinary science which is concerned with relationships between language and society”, (Campoy & Almeida, 2005).
Characteristics of sociolinguistics (Campoy, 1993) A science, which is concerned with the relationship between language and society. A branch of Linguistics. It considers that language is a social and a cultural phenomenon. It studies language in its social context, in real life situations by empirical investigation. It is related to methodology and contents of social sciences.
2. ORIGINS AND MAIN FIGURES ORIGINS: Saussure & Chomsky concepts PROMINENT FIGURES: William Labov & Peter Trudgill
“Sociolinguistics has its roots in dialectology, historical linguistics, and language contact with considerable influence from sociology and psychology (Koerner 1991: 65). This is why it has evolved into an exceptionally broad field.” (Sali A. Tagliamonte, 2012).
New discipline of Linguistics: Developed from the last 30 years. Origins focused on: 1.The structure of langue/parole & the diachronic/synchronic suggested by Ferdinand de Saussure: -Langue/Parole – Internal Linguistics / Microlinguistics (phonology, morphology, syntax) -Diachronic/Synchronic – External Linguistics/ Macrolinguistics (acquisition-use of language and culture-society-language connection) 2.The competence/actions notions by Noam Chomsky.
According to Trudgill Macrolinguistics focused on the study of the language (large-scale - group behaviour). Microlinguistics focused on the description-analysis of languages (small groups).
SAUSSUREAN CONCEPT OF LANGUAGE Related with Chomsky’s competence: Focused on the ideal speaker/listener (control of language - a homogeneous community). Languages - autonomous and coherent systems IN THE PAST: linguistics focused on microlinguistics, ignoring macrolinguistics.
WILLIAM LABOV: regarded as the one who started it with his theories in his empirical works: The social stratification of English in New York City (1966) Sociolinguistics Patterns (1972) Sociological methodology – with theoretical implications for Linguistics His study – based on empirical work in social context Objective – mechanism of linguistic changes & structure of linguistic systems Prominent Figures United States & United Kindgom
William Labov The first one to put into practice the area of sociolinguistics in the United States. Peter John Trudgill Later in the United Kingdom The British complement for the secular linguistics of Labov. The Social Differentiation of English in Norwich (1971) Sociolinguistic Patterns in British English (1972)
3. TYPES AND AREAS OF SOCIOLINGUISTICS Sociology of language: Aspects related with sociolinguistics and language. Social psychology of language: Linguistic attitudes and several aspects of linguistic usage in a face-to-face conversation.
Anthropological linguistics: Its objective is to study in depth the knowledge of the social structure of communities. Ethnography of ommunication: It focuses on the role that language plays in the ‘communicative conduct of communities’ from the different cultures in their different ways of manifestation (styles, dialects and languages).
Discourse analysis: The study of texts and conversational interaction -textual linguistic -conversational analysis Geolinguistics: Mixture among secular linguistics, dialectology and human geography. Focuses on the geographical distribution of linguistics.
Dialectology: The academic study of dialects and the geographical distribution of these dialects. Secular linguistics: Carried out by empirical works. The objectives of this discipline are similar to the ones of linguistics
4. LANGUAGE AND GENDER Context of study Variation Approach within Sociolinguistics “Variationist Sociolinguistics” or “Language Variation and Change (LVC)”. Origins: “Labovian Sociolinguistics”, “Quantitative Sociolinguistics” or “Secular Linguistics”, according to Trudgill (1978b:11). Aim: To link “social variation” and “linguistic variation” resulting on “sociolinguistic variation”. Empirical research: to formulate a “sociolinguistic theory”.
Studied BY and HOW Gender and Language relationships – studied by: Sociolinguistics, Pragmatics, and Discourse Analysis among others. Division of research started at the 1960s: - Investigation on sexism in language. - Influence of gender “as a social variable” in language.
‘SEX’ vs. ‘GENDER’ ‘Sex’ and ‘Gender’ together with “social context” - “social class” - “ethnicity”. The 4 biggest “forms of social differentiation” (Trudgill, 2002).
Different perspective Influenced by Feminism ‘Sex’ – Biological, physiological differences between women and men. ‘Gender’ – Used to establish that distinction BUT in terms of social and cultural aspects. Sociolinguistics – more concerned with the concept of ‘gender’. ANALYSING differences between women and men in relation to language in social context. Mainly Quantitative research (variation theory) and also qualitative study –in terms of several features of language- TO ANALYSE differences.
Language aspects under study, little example Gender and language - focusing on aspects of language, such as: vocabulary and phonology, among others. Regarding vocabulary SEXIST LANGUAGE, NOT NEUTRAL-GENDER – Denoting inequality through language : influenced by sexist society. EXAMPLES: In Spanish – use of adjectives ‘cojonudo’ (good) – ‘coñazo’ (boring). In English – Title names: Male – ‘Mr’ / Female – ‘Mrs’, ‘Miss’, ‘Ms’.
Regarding phonology – Important research through Lavobian approach. Concluded: Women tend to use phonological variants usually related to a HIGHER SOCIAL STATUS. MUCH DISCUSSION about this conclusion – often challenged.
5. EMPIRACAL STUDY ABOUT GENRE AND SOCIOLIGUISTICS Gender and Genre Variation in weblogs Susan C. Herring and John C. Paolillo (Indiana University, Bloomington) “A relationship among language, gender, and discourse genre has previously been observed in informal, spoken interaction and formal, written texts. This study investigates the language/gender/genre relationship in weblogs, a popular new mode of computer-mediated communication (CMC)”.
Conclusion: Language in men's and women's blogs will often differ: “Men's blogs are more likely to appear on 'A-lists' of most popular weblogs (Kennedy, Robinson and Trammell, 2005) - this recalls the traditional stigma associated with 'gossip' and women's writing (Spender, 1989), and reminds us that genres are socially constructed”. Hence: the final result of weblogs is directly related with the producer’s genre but the study also suggests it is necessary a deeper survey in CMC research.
Conclusion Basically Sociolinguistics deals with language-society relationships and its study is based on empirical analysis from real life social context. Saussure and Chomsky concepts put somehow the origins of Sociolinguistics, although the development would come later, first with Labov and later with Trudgill. We have found different directions of Sociolinguistics such as Dialectology or Social psychology of language (in the direction of Labov and Trudgill surveys). It was interesting to have a brief idea of how the relationship between language and gender is studied within the field of Sociolinguistics, and how it is powerfully connected with Feminism. To end up with this overview on Sociolinguistics it was necessary to offer a small inside into recent empirical work on the subject.
References Chambers, J.K., Trudgill, P. & Schilling-Estes, N. (eds.) (2002) The Handbook of Language Variation and Change. Oxford: Blackwell. Hernández Campoy, J.M (1993) Sociolingüística Británica. Barcelona: Octaedro. Hernández Campoy, J.M & Almeida M. (2005) Metodología de la investigación sociolingüística. Granada: Comares. Herring, Susan C. & Paolillo, John C. (2006). “Gender and genre variation in weblogs” in Journal of Sociolinguistics, 10(4), Bloomington: Indiana University. Sali A.l Tagliamonte (2012). Variationist Sociolinguistics, Observation, Interpretation. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Trudgill, P. (2000) Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and Society. London: Penguin. Hernández Campoy, J.M. (1993) Sociolingüística Británica. Barcelona: Octaedro. Web references (Language and Gender: Sociolinguistic and Quantitative Perspectives - Svetla Rogatcheva) html
This work has been realized by: Nuria Muñoz Navarro, Beatriz Medina Zenzano, Eva M á rquez Zayas, Susana Morales Berna and Sonia Mench ó n Arqu é s for Applied Linguistics Subject (3 º GEI)