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Lectures :

3 - 5 pm on Tuesdays


L23B -- Introduction to Sociolinguistics
Course Outline
  1. What is sociolinguistics? The study of language in the social context and its relationship to other fields in linguistics B theoretical linguistics, the sociology of language; microlinguistic study of language, idiolect vs sociolect, interaction and communicative competence.

    Reading for tutorial sessions: Downes (1998:Ch.1); Hymes (2003).
    Additional reading: Milroy (1997); Gumperz (1997: 395).

  2. What is language variation? Language varieties, linguistic variables and the factors that can affect their use B linguistic factors (constraints), social factors (speaker variables, situational variables, group variables).

    Reading for tutorial sessions: Milroy & Gordon (2003: Ch.4); Patrick (1999: Ch.5).
    Additional reading: Labov (1997: 168); Hodge & Kress (1997).

  3. What explains language variation? Introductions to sociological and social psychological explanations. Language ideologies.

    Reading for tutorial sessions: Woolard (1998); Milroy & Gordon (2003: Ch.5).
    Additional reading: Giles & Powesland (1997); Trudgill (1997: 251).

  4. Do sociolinguistic factors affect language change? Change from above and change from below, identity, networks and language change.

    Reading for tutorial sessions: Labov (1972: Ch.1)
    Additional reading: Milroy & Milroy (1997); Gal (1997).

  5. What happens in the Caribbean? Sociolinguistic study of specific Caribbean situations and the application of sociolinguistic theory to our social context.

    Reading for tutorial sessions: Winford (1997); Brodber (1998).
    Additional reading: Irvine (2004).

All references in bold are in the prescribed text.


Assessment : 1 Test (40%); Final Exam (60%).

In each session, students will be asked to prepare a specific reading for tutorials. Students will be expected to discuss the issues raised in the reading and use them as guides when doing the relevant additional reading. All students will be required to participate in tutorials. Students who are not prepared for tutorials will be asked to hand in written summaries of the specific reading. Students who do neither can be assured that they are very likely to fail the course.

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