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Language and Society:

Introduction
Pre-Sociolinguistic Trends in
Linguistics
1. Philosophical
2. Comparative-Historical
3. Descriptive/Structural
Pre-Sociolinguistic View on
Language
Language is a closed system;
It is rigid;
It is stagnant;
It is not flexible;
It should be studied as an abstract system
isolated from speech;
Language in itself and language for itself.
Reasons for Viewing Language as
a Closed System
Emergence of nation-states in Europe and
establishment of Colonies

Formation of Descriptive Linguistics


_______
Inclusion in the Dominant group required the
knowledge of the language of that groups (in its
standard version)

Descriptive approach (how is the language used) was soon


replaced by the prescriptive one (how to use language).
Pre-Requisites for the Emergence
of Sociolinguistics (1)
Emergence of Sociolinguistics (as a
separate field of study) – 60s-70s.
USA and Europe

Motivated by the change in the attitude


towards language (that language is not a
closed system, and is not limited to strict,
unchangeable rules)
Prerequisites to Emergence of
Sociolinguistics (2)
However:

Ferdinand de Saussure – first distinguishing


language and speech (langue and parole)

Young Grammarians

American School of Descriptivism – first studying non-


standard languages

Leonard Bloomfield – Behaviorist Theory


Social and Political Background
1960s of the XX c. – socio-cultural revolution

Loss of trust I nation states after the decay


of colonialism; defeat of Germany in the 2nd
WW followed by the defeat of the idea of
Arian languages and culture;
Youth movements; reflection in literature,
science, art and politics;
First President from the Party of Democrats in
USA; leftists movements;
Linguistic Feminism ; counter-culture;
Tendency towards social sciences including sociolinguistics
Language Beyond “Language
Described in Books” (1)
Leonard Bloomfield’s behaviorist approach:

Stimulus of the Sender – Speech Act –


Reaction of the Receiver

According to Bloomfield, speech act is


dependent on the extra-linguistic environment and
on the history of the sender and receiver.

According to Bloomfield, speech also motivates the entire situation.

Without speech, there would be S – R accomplished by the sender (only) with uncertain
result of success.

Speech allows the R to be undertaken by the receiver, which adds to the


chances of the sender to be successful.
S–r -s-R
Language Beyond “Language
Described in Books” (2)
Dell Hymes: Linguistics vs. Ethnography
Language vs. Communication

Sociolinguistics as ethnography of speaking is part of the


study of communication

What seems a deviation in linguistics might be a pattern in


ethnolinguitics/sociolinguistics

Nature of message: what is a message?


“social relations with other-than-human beings: is this
possible?
The Notion of a “Code”
A code is a system that people use for
communication. Any system which qualifies
as a language (standard or non-standard,
natural or artificial), or a dialect (regional or
social), or a register, or any other mode of
speech, can be identified as CODE.
Studying Codes
Language and Society is a subject about the relationship between language and society
– BUT IN THE SENSE OF A CODE.

Sociolinguistics is interested in the knowledge about the


language which extends beyond the knowledge of
language contained in most grammar books.

The knowledge that Sociolinguistics is interested in is


shared knowledge, the one that every speaker of a
particular language possesses (vs. the knowledge of the
grammar of such language).

This shared knowledge is the knowledge about what do with the


language corpus (sounds, words, structures) rather than the knowledge
about the corpus itself.

Such knowledge has been characterized by Chomsky as linguistic competence (inherent


in any human being).
Domain of “ Language and Society”
course in brief
“Language and Society” studies the
relationship between linguistic items (such
entities as sounds, words, grammatical
structures) and social items (such entities
and identity, power, policy, rights).
Language-society relationship is viewed from 4 different
angles: 1) social structure may influence or determine
linguistic structure and behavior; 2) linguistic structure or
behavior may influence or determine social structure
(Whorf); 3) there is mutual relationship; 4) there is no
relationship).
Recent Developments in
Sociolinguistics
From micro-sociolinguistic (sociolinguistics)
issues to macro-sociolinguistic (sociology of
language) issues

Sociolinguistics is the study of language in


relation to society (how social structure
influences the way people talk); sociology of
language is the study of social structure through
the study of language.
Questions:
1) Provide a brief overview of the historic period (1960s
of the XX c.), which motivated the emergence of
sociolinguistics.
2) How is sociolinguistic interest in studying codes (vs.
languages) justified?
3) How are sociolinguistic problems categorized? How do
you see the development of each category? Are they
likely to develop into separate fields of study?
4) What are the arguments behind Hyme’s consideration
of sociolinguistics as the study of communication
rather than of language?
5) What is the role of speech in Bloomfieldian
behaviorism?
Reading:
Wardhaugh, Ronald. An Introduction to
Sociolinguistics. 2006. Blackwell Publishing.
Pp. 1-4, 9-17.

Hymes, Dell. Foundations in


Sociolinguistics. An Ethnographic Approach;
1976. University of Pennsylvania Press. Pp.
vii-x; 3-4; 9-16.

Hudson, Richard Anthony. Sociolinguistics. Cambridge University


Press. 1993. Pp. 1-5.

Блумфильд, Леонард. Язык. «Прогресс» 1968. сс. 37-46


Topics for Presentation/Paper
1) On Hudson’s Account of Basic Sociolinguistic
Phenomena

Based on: Hudson, Richard Anthony.


Sociolinguistics. Cambridge University
Press. 1993. Pp. 1-20.
2) Cases of Linguistic Feminism

Based on: Cooper, Robert. Language Planning


and Social Change. Cambridge University
Press, 1996. Pp. 14-21