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SEL2091 : Sociolinguistics and the Sociology of Language

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Daniel Duncan
  • Lecturer: Professor Karen Corrigan
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The module aims to:
o       Introduce the basic terms, concepts and premises underlying: (i) Labovian sociolinguistics (ii) Fishman's sociology of language paradigm (iii) World Englishes.
o       Give a broad understanding of fieldwork techniques used within these sub-disciplines and offer students the experience of preparing for and conducting their own sociolinguistic interview from which the data is to be transcribed using an established protocol.
o       Emphasis will also be placed (particularly in seminars) on acquiring skills for the resolution of linguistic analyses and the interpretation of tables/graphs.

Students will learn to:
o       Apply the terminological distinctions, principles, methods and concepts used within these sub-disciplines to actual and novel case studies that explore the inter-relationships between language and society.
o       Outline the major difficulties with the Labovian paradigm in terms of the way in which it handles linguistic and extralinguistic variables.
o       Examine alternative approaches to the Labovian paradigm.
o       Understand the principles and practicalities of collecting, coding and transcribing vernacular data.
o       Further explore specific issues raised at the individual level in Labovian Sociolinguistics at the community/national level. The focus will therefore be on language(s) rather than idiolect/sociolect/dialect. Particular attention will be paid to promoting an understanding of the relationship between language and nationalism/ethnicity as well as questions of language loyalty, attitude, status and the power relations apparent in language contact situations.

Outline Of Syllabus

Two major themes are addressed:
(i) The nature and mechanisms of linguistic change within speech communities;
(ii) The symbolic function of language and the effect which this has on the perception of language as a social problem and resource.

Topics include:
- Fieldwork methods in paradigms associated with understanding language and its function in society.
- The linguistic variable.
- Extralinguistic variables.
- The Labovian paradigm.
- Multilingualism and language contact/shift.
- Language standards and standardisation.
- Attitudes and ideologies towards language(s).
- New Englishes.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion148:0048:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading163:0063:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudySkills practice110:0010:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity120:0020:00inc. 10 hours directed groupwork
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study126:0026:00N/A
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
SEL8163The Sociolinguistics of Language and Society
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

LECTURES: Will be used, primarily, to impart information and provide overall coherence for the module.

SEMINARS: Will be used, primarily, to build skills in linguistic analysis and examine concepts in depth.

STUDY GROUPS: Between the lecture and the seminar, students will participate in self-directed online study groups where they will discuss topics relevant to the module.

SURGERIES: Will be provided for students throughout the module (particularly with regard to problems encountered with the fieldwork and plans for other assignments).

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M50Data collection and analysis assignment, 1250 words in total.
Written exercise1A501750 words in total addressing topic in the sociology of language
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

-The data collection and analysis assignment is required to assess an understanding of fieldwork and data collection/analysis skills not assessed in the essay or poster presentation that will be relevant to future independent research.
-Written exercise 2 assesses written communication skills; analytical/problem solving skills; critical thinking/conceptual understanding/knowledge and ability to construct a logical argument.

Reading Lists