A means of communicating information
Significant in establishing and maintaining relationships with
Represents a man’s identity in the society i.e. his personality,
class, nature, job etc.
Only a means to convey
4. Aspects of language
Function of language
in establishing social
Role played by
language in conveying
information about the
3. Ideas/ attitudes
Study of language in relation to society (R.A. Hudson, 1980)
Dell-Hymes calls it “socially constituted language”
A blend of sociology and linguistics
It is also referred to as sociology of language
Study of society in
relation to language
7. The relatedness between language and Society
1. While language is principally used to communicate meaning, it is also
used to establish and maintain social relationships.
8. 2. Users of the same language in a sense all speak differently. The kind
of language each of them chooses to use is in part determined by his
social background. Language, in its turn, reveals information about its
(about his personality, class, nature, job, position in society etc.)
9. 3)To some extent, language, especially the structure of its lexicon,
reflects the physical environments of a society.
English, for example, has only one word for snow ( or two if we include
sleet), Eskimo has several. The reasons for this are obvious. It is
essential for Eskimos to be able to distinguish efficiently between
d i f f e r e n t t y p e s o f s n o w .
10. English, of course, is quite able to make the same distinctions: fine
snow, dry snow, soft snow, and so on, but in Eskimos this sort of
distinction is lexicalized---made by means of individual words.
(There are approx 50 Eskimo words for snow)
11. 4. To some extent, language, especially the structure of its lexicon
reflects social environments of a society.
For example, a society's kinship system is generally reflected in its
13. Speech Community
A speech community is defined as a group of people who form
a community and share the same language or a particular
variety of language.
14. Characteristics of a Speech Community
a) They speak the same language or dialect.
b) The members of the group must interact linguistically with other
members of the community.
c) They may share similar attitudes toward linguistic norms.
15. Language variety
Speech variety, or language variety, refers to any
distinguishable form of speech used by a speaker or a
group of speakers.
16. The distinctive characteristics of a speech variety are mainly
reflected in its pronunciation, syntax and vocabulary.
Speech variety is a neutral term, which is often used to replace
such terms as standard language, dialect, pidgin and creole.
It can also be used to refer to regional dialects and ethnic
dialects such as Australian English and Black English as well
as the functional dialects such as legal language.
18. Standard Language
Standard language or standard variety is the variety of a
language which has the highest status in a community or nation
and which is usually based on the speech and writing of
educated native speakers of the language.
A standard language is generally used in government
documents, in the news media and in literature, described in
dictionaries and grammars, and taught in schools.
A variety of a language used recognizably in a specific region
or by a specific social class is called a dialect.
The study of dialects is called dialectology. Dialects can be
categorized into the following types:
dialect is a
used by people
living in the
dialect, refers to
Idiolect is a
personal dialect of
social, gender, and
age variations. In
other words, an
regional and social
gender and age
the way he/she talks.
And the language
he/she uses, which
features of his/her
own, is his/her
dialect is a
of a language
spoken by a
some form of
such as racial
Register refers to the type of language which is selected as
appropriate to the type of situation.
Language used on different occasions differs in the degree of
formality, which is determined by the social variables.
As languages and dialects differ from one another at every
level, so registers can differ in vocabulary, phonology, grammar
22. Field of
• refers to what is happening, including what is being talked about.
• “Why” and “about what”.
• refers to the relations among the participants in a language
activity, especially the level of formality they adopt
• who the participants in the communication groups are and
in what relationship they stand to each other. “To whom”.
• refers to the medium of language activity which determines the
role played by the language in a situation e.g. speech vs. writing.
• refers to the means of communication. “How”
A lecture on linguistics in a postgraduate class at NUML can be
analyzed as follows:
Mode: oral (academic lecturing)
Tenor: participants (teacher-students)
24. Language and Gender
The language used by men and women have some special
features of their own.
In what ways is language used by women different from that
25. Language and Age
In many communities the language used by the old
generation differs from that used by the younger
generation in certain ways.
26. Pidgin and Creoles
Pidgin is a variety of a language that is not a native language of
anyone, but is learned on contact situations such as trading.
The process by which a pidgin develops is called pidginization.
A pidgin is usually based on one language, though it soon
takes on the substances of other languages.
When a pidgin develops beyond its role as a trade language
and becomes the first language of a social community, it
becomes a creole.
The process by which a pidgin becomes a creole is called
Once a creole is in existence, it may (i) continue almost without
change, as appears to be the case for Haitian creole; (ii)
become extinct; (iii) evolve further into a normal language; (iv)
gradually merge with its base language through decreolization,
a process by which a creole becomes more like the standard
language from which most of its vocabulary comes.
The two aspects of language behaviour are very important from a social point of view.
The second is the clue-bearing role.
Both these aspects of Linguistic behaviour are reflections of the fact that there is close inter-relationship between language and society.
Sociolinguistics is the sub-field of linguistics that studies the relation between language and society, between the uses of language and the social structures in which the users of language live
E.g. talking to a stranger at a railway station, talking to your new neighbor, talking to your new classmate
The social group that is singled out for any special study is called the speech community. In sociolinguistics, it refers to the a group of people who do in fact have the opportunity to interact with each other and who share not just a single language with its related varieties, but also attitudes toward linguistic norms.