Sociolinguistics is The concept, definition, characteristics of the discipline, goals, stages and modern methods of development

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Sociolinguistics is The concept, definition, characteristics of the discipline, goals, stages and modern methods of development
Sociolinguistics is The concept, definition, characteristics of the discipline, goals, stages and modern methods of development

The branches of the humanities include not only the Russian language and literature, as many people think. Here you can distinguish a whole range of scientific disciplines. One of the lesser known is sociolinguistics. Few people can say with certainty what it is. Although in the language development of modern society - sociolinguistics as a science plays an important role. More on this below.

methods of sociolinguistics

Sociolinguistics is… Definition

First of all, this is one of the branches of linguistics that studies the relationship between language and its conditions of existence in society, and has a practical nature. That is, the concept of sociolinguistics is closely intertwined with several similar disciplines - linguistics, sociology, psychology and ethnography.

History in brief

For the first time, the fact that linguistic variation is caused by social factors was noticed already in the 17th century. And the first written observation belongs to Gonzalo de Correas -lecturer at the University of Salaman in Spain. He clearly distinguished the linguistic features of people depending on the social status of the observed.

The development of sociolinguistics as a science started in the early 20th century. Therefore, this branch of linguistics is considered quite young. The term was first used by the American sociologist Herman Curry in 1952. And in 1963, the world's first committee on sociolinguistics was formed in the United States.

Modern sociolinguistics is experiencing a surge of interest from people who are not directly related to this scientific discipline. This is due to extralinguistic processes. That is, with processes that relate to reality. The biggest one so far is globalization.

Problems of sociolinguistics

In sociolinguistics, a number of problems can be identified, however, as in other sciences. They help to form the right impression of what exactly the people of this scientific discipline are doing.

  1. One of the most important, which is studied by scientists, is the social differentiation of the language, that is, the study of different variations of one language at all structural levels. The appearance of different variants of the same language unit may directly depend on social conditions. It also includes studying language changes depending on a certain social situation (working with a partner in a group, talking with a person of a higher social status, ordering food in a cafe, etc.).
  2. The next, no less important problem of sociolinguistics is "language and nation". Studying thisproblem, scientists turn to such a concept as the national language, that is, the civil language of a certain nation.
  3. On the territory of one state, in addition to the state language approved in the Constitution, there are various dialects, functional styles, regional koine, and so on. They serve the process of communication between different social groups of people in different situations. Sociolinguists study the problem of the relationship between all variants of one language in a particular state.
  4. Social aspects of multilingualism (knowledge and use of at least one foreign language) and diglossia (situation when there are several official languages ​​in one territory). When studying this problem, scientists consider which categories of the population are multilingual. In case of diglossia, which languages ​​are used in which social group.
  5. The problem of verbal communication. When studying it, sociolinguists observe the communication of people belonging to different or to the same social group.
  6. The problem of language policy. What measures does the state take to solve language problems in society.
  7. The problem of a more global scale is language conflicts. Sociolinguists, based on research, are trying to neutralize existing language conflicts between countries, or prevent possible ones.
  8. The problem of disappearing languages.

As you can see, sociolinguistics is a wide range of problems, but they are all related to the manifestation of language in society.

sociolinguistics and sociology

Links with other scientific disciplines

The whole list of problems that sociolinguistics studies is intertwined with other scientific disciplines. Namely:

  1. Sociology. Provides information about the social structure of society, the systematization of status and non-status groups of people, relations between groups and within them.
  2. Communication theory.
  3. Dialectology. This scientific discipline studies the change of language depending on the territory of the speaker's residence or his social status.
  4. Phonetics. Specialists in this field are engaged in the study of the phonetic (sound) structure of the language. The connection with phonetics is quite strong, since in most sociolinguistic theories the basis is phonetic material.
  5. The strongest interweaving of sociolinguistics and linguistics. Here such aspects as lexicology and semantics of words are important.
  6. Psycholinguistics. For sociolinguistics, the data obtained by psycholinguists are important, since they study human speech activity from the side of mental processes.
  7. Ethnolinguistics. The list of problems of this scientific discipline also includes the problem of bilingualism and multilingualism.

Object of sociolinguistics

Sociolinguistics, like many other humanities, studies language. But the attention of this scientific discipline is directed not to the internal structure of the language (grammatical, phonetic, and so on), but to functioning in a real society. Sociolinguists study how real people speak in certain situations, then they analyze their speechbehavior.

development of sociolinguistics


The subject of sociolinguistics is understood in several conventional senses.

  1. Language and society. This is an understanding of the subject of sociolinguistics in the broadest sense. This refers to any relationship between language and society. For example, language and culture, and ethnicity, and history, and school.
  2. The narrowest concept of the subject of sociolinguistics means the study of the choice of the speaker, one or another language element, that is, which language unit the subject chooses.
  3. Studying the features of linguistic behavior depending on a person's belonging to a social group. Here, the analysis of the social structure of society takes place, but in addition to the well-known sociological criteria (social status, age, education, and so on), features of the choice of language units are added. For example, people of low social status say a certain word in one way, while people of high social status say it differently.

Methods of sociolinguistics

Methods are conditionally divided into three groups. The first includes the collection of research material, the second - the processing of the collected material, and the third - the evaluation of the information received. Moreover, the received and processed material needs a sociolinguistic interpretation. It will allow scientists to identify a possible pattern between language and social groups of people.

The sociolinguist puts forward a hypothesis. Then, using these methods, refutes or confirms it.

sociolinguistics language

Collection methodsinformation

Basically, methods are used here that were borrowed by sociolinguistics from sociology, psychology and dialectology. The most commonly used methods are listed below.

Questioning. It is presented in the form of a list of questions to which the respondent answers. The survey has several types.

  1. Individual. It does not provide for a common time and place for answering the questions of the questionnaire.
  2. Group. In this form, a group of people answers the questionnaire at the same time in the same place.
  3. Full-time. The survey is conducted under the supervision of a researcher.
  4. In absentia. The respondent (respondent) fills out the questionnaire on his own.
  5. Questionnaire. It is a questionnaire with a dozen questions of the same type. They are mainly used to detect linguistic variation. The questions used in the questionnaire can be presented in several forms:
  • Closed. Those to which possible answers are preassigned. The data collected in this way is not entirely complete. Since the possible answers may not fully satisfy the respondent.
  • Control. When compiling security questions, the only correct option is assumed.
  • Open. With this form, the respondent chooses the form and content of the response.

Observation. With this method of collecting information, the sociolinguist observes a certain group of people or one individual. The features of the speech behavior of the observed are taken into account. It comes in two types:

  1. Hidden.Carried out by the researcher incognito. At the same time, the observed do not know that they are the objects of research.
  2. Included. The observer himself becomes a member of the study group.

Interviewing. This is a method of collecting information in which there is a purposeful conversation between the researcher and the interviewee. It comes in two types:

  1. Massive. With this type of interviewing, a large number of respondents are interviewed.
  2. Specialized. With this type, a survey is made of a group that has certain characteristics. For example, the mentally ill, prisoners, illiterate adults, and so on.

Processing and evaluation of received material

After collecting the necessary materials, they are processed. To do this, all data is entered into a table and subjected to manual or mechanized processing. The choice of calculation of the result depends on the amount of data.

After that, apply the mathematical and statistical evaluation of the material received. Then the researcher, on the basis of the obtained results, reveals a certain pattern, how the use of the language correlates with the social characteristics of the representatives of this language group. In addition, the researcher can make a forecast about how the situation will develop in the future.

sociolinguistics linguistics

Directions of sociolinguistics

There are two types of sociolinguistics depending on the phenomena being studied. Synchronic - this is the direction of all the attention of scientists to the study of the relationship between languageand social institutions. And in the case of diachronic sociolinguistics, the focus is on the processes that can characterize the development of a language. At the same time, language development goes along with the evolution of society.

Depending on the scale of the goals pursued by the scientist and the objects studied, the scientific discipline is divided into macrosociolinguistics and microsociolinguistics. The first deals with the study of linguistic relations and processes that occur in large social associations. These can be a state, a region, numerous social groups. The latter, as a rule, are allocated conditionally on any specific basis. For example, age, education level, social status and so on.

Microsociolinguistics is the study and analysis of linguistic processes occurring in a small social group. For example, family, class, work team, and so on. At the same time, the methods of sociolinguistics remain the same.

problems of sociolinguistics

Depending on the nature of the study, theoretical and experimental sociolinguistics are distinguished. If sociolinguistic research is aimed at developing general problems that are related to the principle of "language and society", then they belong to theoretical sociolinguistics. If the scientist's attention is directed to the experimental verification of the proposed hypothesis, then these data are referred to as experimental.

Experimental research in sociolinguistics is a rather laborious task. It requires a lot of effort in organization and financing.A research scientist sets himself the task of collecting as much accurate data as possible about the speech behavior of representatives of a social group or about other aspects of the life of a language community. At the same time, the data should maximally characterize various aspects of the life of a social group. Based on this, the scientist needs to use reliable tools, a more than once tested methodology for conducting an experiment. In addition to technique, well-trained interviewers are also needed, who will exactly fulfill the required conditions. Equally important is the choice of the population. There are several types of samples.

  1. Representative. In this case, a small group of typical representatives of the whole community is selected. At the same time, the percentage and significant characteristics should be reflected in this small group. Thus, a small model of the whole society is created.
  2. Random. In this sample, the respondents are randomly selected. The downside is that data obtained in this way cannot accurately convey linguistic variation across social groups.
  3. Systematic. Researched people are selected according to certain rules or criteria, which are established by the sociolinguist.
concept of sociolinguistics

What affects an individual's language change

As you can see, sociolinguistics and language are strongly interconnected. To date, sociolinguists identify a number of factors that directly affect the speech behavior of an individual.

  1. Profession and the environment that surrounds a person. All this renderstheir influence on the way of thinking and their presentation.
  2. The level and nature of education. After research among the technical and humanitarian intelligentsia, it was revealed that the first group is prone to using jargon. While the humanitarian intelligentsia are conservative in their speech behavior, they increasingly observe the literary norms of the language.
  3. Gender. According to the experiments, women are conservative in their speech behavior, while men's speech behavior is innovative.
  4. Ethnicity. Ethnic groups are people who speak a non-state language, and, accordingly, exist in a situation of bilingualism. In this case, the language can be enriched, transformed.
  5. Territorial residence of the individual. The territory of a person's residence affects his dialect features. For example, for people living in the southern part of Russia, "akanye" is characteristic, but for Russians living in the northern part of the country, "okane" is characteristic.

So, we have considered the concept of sociolinguistics.

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