LING 432/532: Sociolinguistics
Instructor: Keith Walters
This course is designed to introduce students to the field of sociolinguistics, as the term is used in its broadest sense to include the interplay of language and society in all aspects. Sociolinguistics has often been defined as focusing on the "patterned covariation between language and society".
In this course we will look at areas of language where social factors are important and areas of society where language is important.
An example of the former is understanding the factors that determine the choice of tu or vous by a speaker of French when addressing a fellow speaker; an example of the latter is evaluating the factors determining language policy, for example, in choosing the language to be declared a national language or in choosing the language of the classroom, as in the recent Ebonics debate.
The approaches that we will use in considering the interaction of language and society will be drawn from related disciplines and will certainly include ones drawn from the ethnography of speaking as well as from social psychology. Although most of the language data we will consider will be drawn from English, indeed from the everyday speech found in the city of Portland, we will also include sociolinguistic factors as they function in other languages and cultures. For example, we will consider such gender-determined varieties as hlonipha, the "language of respect", which prohibits married Zulu women from pronouncing anything that sounds like the name of their husbands. In fact, issues in gender will be of some importance, for it is there one often sees the expression of more general issues in power relationships, a major focus of the course.
Prerequisites: This course requires very little previous knowledge of linguistics, although students would be well advised to have taken an introductory linguistics course (Ling 290 or 390).
Major Assignments: Evaluation will be based on several short assignments, a midterm, and a comprehensive final exam.
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