Language in Society: An Introduction to Sociolinguistics

By Suzanne Romaine | Go to book overview

1
Language in Society/Society in Languages

I NOTED in my Preface how prevailing trends in linguistics have marginalized the study of the social role of language. In discussing the differences between the concerns of sociolinguistics and mainstream linguistics, Noam Chomsky, who is the leading figure in theoretical linguistics, observed that sociolinguistics was not concerned with 'grammar' but with concepts of a different sort, among them perhaps 'language'. To this he added, 'if such an object can become an object of serious study'. Chomsky then went on to say that questions of language are basically questions of power, but these are not the sorts of issues which linguists should address. He is certainly right about the former. The latter is a matter of opinion. The narrowing of modern linguistics to the study of grammar has ruled out investigation of many interesting questions about how language functions in society.

I can't begin to estimate how many times people have asked me questions such as how many languages there are in the world, how many dialects of English there are, and whether American English is a language or a dialect of English, etc. I am sure my answers are generally seen as unsatisfactory because I invariably reply that it depends on what we mean by terms such as 'language' and 'dialect' and that these are not linguistic but rather social matters. It may at first glance seem incredible to non-linguists that linguists cannot define such essential and basic concepts in purely linguistic terms. The purpose of this chapter is to explain why the notions of language and dialect are fundamentally social and not linguistic constructs. I will also introduce other concepts such as 'communicative competence' and say why these too are primary concerns of sociolinguistics because they depend on society in crucial ways.

-1-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Language in Society: An Introduction to Sociolinguistics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Contents xiii
  • List of Figures xiv
  • List of Tables xv
  • 1 - Language in Society/Society in Languages 1
  • 2 - Language Choice 33
  • 3 - Sociolinguistic Patterns 67
  • 4 - Language and Gender 99
  • 5 - Linguistic Change in Social Perspective 134
  • 6 - Pidgin and Creole Languages 162
  • 7 - Linguistic Problems as Societal Problems 191
  • 8 - Conclusions 221
  • Index 229
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 235

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.