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A two-part survey of sociolinguistics written in Grimshaw b, a noted that more had been published on sociolinguistic topics in the early s than in all previous years. That review commented on about fifty new titles; only a few sociologists particularly Basil Bernstein and Joshua Fishman, each with several volumes were represented.

In the three decades since that time, interest in language in use micro sociolinguistics has continued to grow exponentially; while that interest still is not seen as part of mainstream sociology, it is moving in that direction Lemert Interest in more macro dimensions of the sociology of language—for instance, language conflict, language maintenance, and language spread and decline—also has grown, though much more slowly.

This activity often is referred to as "autonomous linguistics" and occasionally as "nonhyphenated linguistics. Psycholinguistics, which covers a wide range of topics, including the acoustics of perception, cognitive constraints on the complexity of clausal embedding, theories of innateness and learning in language acquisition , and the physical location of language functions in the brain.

Social psychology of language from psychological social psychology , wide-ranging specialty that includes research on message characteristics and influence, self-disclosure, relationships between personality and speech, and relationships among body movements, speech, and "meaning.

CA has identified devices such as "preinvitations" and "preclosings" as well as ways of constructing accusations without accusing anyone explicitly Atkinson and Drew ; workers in the field are interested in how these devices are used in the course of the immediate talk, not in how they might be directed to more complex goals of conversational participants.

Whalen notes that CA "examines talk as an object in its own right, as a fundamental type of social action, rather than primarily as a resource for documenting other social processes. The ethnography of speaking and ethnolinguistics, like the anthropological practices from which they take their names, focus on the diversity of available linguistic resources and the uses to which those resources are put in individual speech communities and in human society at large, respectively.

There is a strong comparative dimension to these arenas of investigation. Sociolinguistics manifests a different kind of comparative orientation. The micro variety usually focuses on interactional accomplishment through the medium of language in use in social contexts: 1 comparisons of means and ends, including attention both to how individual ends can be accomplished by different means ways of talking and to how different outcomes may simultaneously result intentionally or otherwise from the production of same or very similar bits of talk, and 2 comparisons of the different resources available to different participants in talk.

The sociology of language, as the macro variety of sociolinguistics often is called Grimshaw a , tends to focus on distributional studies, such as the distribution of language varieties across individual repertoires and the distribution of repertoires across social aggregates, categories, and groups nations or classes, genders or age groups, and families or friendship networks, respectively.

At the most macro level, this implies studies of language maintenance, supersession and change, conflict, and so on. At some point, the last activity shades off into symbolic interactionism; this boundary is not explored here. Finally, specialized studies of proxemics social and interpersonal spacing and kinesics body movement, the organization of facial features, gesture, posture have been done from both sociological and psychological perspectives Hall , ; Kendon, [] A smaller but substantial number of correlational studies attempt to discover how language use spoken and written is associated with interactional outcomes as varied as providing or not providing a requested favor, succeeding or not succeeding in school, and deciding whether to go to war for a review, see Grimshaw ; for illustrations of claims about language use and the risks of war, see Chilton ; Wertsch and Mehan Although closer scrutiny often reveals that ways of talking are themselves resources that are differentially available to interactants with different social origins, some language resources appear to be available throughout social structures.

Ways of talking in turn have been shown to have effects independent of structural relations. Figure 1 is a simplified schematic representation of a mutual-embeddedness perspective.

It is also a schematic showing how the processes of cultural reproduction would operate in a world without change. Bernstein , Bourdieu Bourdieu and Passeron , Cicourel a, b, , Collins a, b , and Habermas — all address the question of cultural reproduction and questions of change.

All take essentially mutuality perspectives. All accord central importance to language in the reproduction process. Collins explicates ways in which language is simultaneously a resource in interaction and a source of change. Only Bernstein and Cicourel actually collect data on language in use, and only Cicourel directly investigates talk. In the mids, Fischer , published perhaps the strongest version of the mutual-embeddedness position and, from the disciplinary perspective of sociology, perhaps the most esoterically documented.

The papers are reviewed extensively in Grimshaw b. Fischer argued nothing loss that phonological and syntactic differences between two related but mutually unintelligible languages Trukese and Ponapean, separated for about eight centuries are isomorphic to differences in the social structures of the two societies: As societies become more complex and social roles become more differentiated, the realized meaning of words in particular contexts becomes less important than the common or basic meaning.

Speakers are forced to assume a greater cognitive gap between themselves and their listeners. At the same time, the basic meaning of the items of the lexicon tends to become more abstract and attenuated, since speakers have less need for words which can express much meaning in compact form to listeners who are conceived as being much like the self; they have more need, instead, for words which can be used in many different contexts with many different listeners who are conceived of as being very different from the self and from each other.

Fischer , p. Linguists write grammars; that is, they describe and write "rules" for phonological and syntactic systems for individual languages. They distinguish between absolute and quantitative universals i. Sociologists have similar concerns in seeking to discover the rules of interactional grammars for specific societies or groups and in seeking social interactional universals and the role of language in use in both grammars and the grammar. Although there are greetings in most, if not all, societies this is more a quantitative than an absolute universal, and there are societies in which greeting is the marked case and nongreeting the unmarked , how they are done, to whom, and to what purpose may vary considerably Firth ; Goffman ; Ibrahim et al.

Similarly, there must be a need for information everywhere, but questions are not the appropriate manner for obtaining information in every society see Goody ; sources cited in Grimshaw Again, it seems likely that interpersonal relations of power and affect and considerations of valence and cost are everywhere involved in requesting behavior Brown and Levinson ; Grimshaw ; their relative importance and the consequent variety of modes of requesting behaviors vary considerably.

Ways of talking are everywhere critical resources in interaction; very little is known, however, about what features of language in use in social contexts may be universal or, for that matter, about which rules within speech communities or social groups are variant and which are invariant Labov ; Grimshaw a. Indeed, some sociologists find the notion of rule misleading on grounds that expectations and behaviors are always under negotiation Berger and Luckmann Notions of rules and exceptions vary across disciplines Edgerton ; Labov ; Grimshaw a, These distinctions, along with the familiar polarities of social psychology and social organization—or qualitative and quantitative methods—often appear in discussions of sociological interest in language and language in use.

How do the things that go on in individual conversations on the micro level get articulated with, and aggregated into, processes of change in languages themselves, in their prestige, in policies regarding their use, and so on, on the macro level? As was suggested above, the micro—macro question is closely related both to those about mutual embeddedness and to those about cultural reproduction. A perspective offered by Collins a, b is that participants bring to everyday conversations interactional resources that are enhanced or reduced in the course of interaction and that modest changes in interactional resources ultimately eventuate in changes in institutions and cultural systems—and languages.

Related formulations are cited in Grimshaw b. The macro—micro questions constrain one to think deeply both about processes of change and about how people try to get co-conversationalists to agree with them or to do what they want those them to do.

The first question is whether when sociologists study the uses of language in specific contexts such as educational, military, or medical institutions, they are interested primarily in understanding 1 the institutions themselves, 2 social processes such as negotiation or socialization or, more broadly, conflict or cooperation, 3 a specific kind of situated interaction, such as an interview, as a representative of a species of situation, or 4 how talk works in interaction.

There are, of course, no pure cases The second question has been put by Cicourel a as a distinction between "top-down" and "bottom-up" theorizing. By "bottom-up," he refers to researchers immersing themselves in their data and identifying regularities, then validating that identification, then discovering regularities in relations between previously observed regularities, and so on.

All the investigators whose work is mentioned in this article—indeed, all sociologists—would like to believe that they let their data guide them to theory construction, and all are to some extent guided in their work by prior theoretical constructions. DATA, DATA, EVERYWHERE While sociologists sometimes are intimidated by the complex structure of formal linguistic theory, they may be equally envious of the easy access of linguists to their data, either in their own intuitions about the languages they speak or in the bath of talk and writing in which all people live compare the ways of studying phonology in, for example, Chomsky and Halle ; W.

Labov They share the disadvantage that many of the sociological questions they want to study—matters as varied as 1 attitudes about different speech varieties, 2 the impact of stratification on the acquisition of those attitudes, and 3 the ways in which phonological variation affects stratification—can be considerably more difficult to identify, conceptualize, and measure.

This brief discussion can comment on only a few of these methodological questions: 1 What constitutes optimal data for SL and SOL, or micro and macro, research? This has two dimensions: a What varieties of language spoken and written are assumed in the following discussion do individual members of speech communities control? The optimal data for such studies are extended texts.

How are language varieties and patterns of use distributed across categories of age, class, gender, occupation, nationality, religious affiliation, and residence? The optimal data here are a combination of sampled texts and observations. How do members of social groups learn about language and its appropriate use, and how do they learn second and higher-order languages?

The optimal data here are experimental results and observations and, to a lesser extent, texts. How do people feel about language; that is, what are the attitudes of individuals and groups toward language varieties, repertoires, language change, and literacy?

Data that have been employed in addressing these questions have included all five of the varieties listed by Labov a , and each has proved useful. What Are the Criteria for Optimal Data? There is no such thing as a "verbatim" record without electronic recording, and optimal records of conversation include both high-fidelity audio recording and possibly multiple sound-image recordings for discussions of sound-image recording, including some of the controversies about such data collection, see Feld and Williams ; Grimshaw , When one is working with written texts, optimal data include photographic copies of handwritten originals as well as printed versions.

Whatever texts and observations are collected and used as data, however, those materials are valuable only to the extent that contexts of both "situation" and "text" i. Two excellent articulations of the importance of context that suggest different boundaries for what must be taken into account are those of Corsaro , and Cicourel esp. People are often skeptical of claims about what talk is actually like until they see it transcribed; they then are skeptical that the transcription is accurate until they hear electronically recorded audio while reading a transcript.

Labov has developed elicitation techniques that have the advantage of generating different levels of self-consciousness of, and thus monitoring of, talk see, e. This similarity may be least evident in the case of the activities labeled "conversation analysis" see Whalen and "comprehensive discourse analysis" Labov and Fanshel Labov and Fanshel realize that the goal of comprehensiveness is chimerical: their pioneering study demonstrated the importance of such aspects of talk as prosodic and paralinguistic features.

Lexical, syntactic, and even phonological selection are deeply involved in what is "actually said" i. Sociologists have employed CDA and adaptations of it to ask more specifically sociological questions. Other students have developed similarly fine-grained approaches to written texts Silverman and Torode Perhaps sociologists are now aware that questions about language as language have sociological significance and that talk and writing are no longer just media that contain answers to other questions.

While SL and SOL research and publications have increased tremendously in the last few decades, their literatures continue to be diffuse.

There have been few replications. Most research has been on English, and much of the material on other languages is published in English. While much of the early activity in SL was interdisciplinary, there have been few truly interdisciplinary studies for a discussion of problems with such projects, see Grimshaw, Feld et al. There have been few explicitly comparative studies in which the same or collaborating investigators have simultaneously studied the "same" phenomenon in different speech communities see, however, Watson-Gegeo and White or in different institutional contexts in same societies see, however, Grimshaw There is reason to believe that all three of these important kinds of research are on the increase.

An Additional, Residual, Neglected Question. While the modes of work are loosely associated with the micro—macro distinction, there are representations of both modes in both arenas. It is possible here to mention only a few contributions to the understanding of 1 substantive areas, 2 social processes, and 3 relations among language, literature, identity, and so on.

Let us begin with two instances of sociologically relevant contributions by the linguist best known to sociologists possibly excepting Chomsky , William Labov, and then turn to research by sociologists and other nonlinguists that focuses from the outset on identifiably sociological concerns. Suggestive Empirical Findings. Studies of a multitude of other settings, ranging from street, to dinner table, to backyard party, to workplace, also have produced important theoretical insights.

Awareness of this phenomenon should alert sociologists to look for analogues in other behavioral arenas there is a family relationship to anticipatory socialization; the roots of the labeled behaviors may differ quite considerably ; Labov b, has pointed out important implications of this research for studies of linguistic and, one may add, social change.

This divergence cooccurs with concommitant differentiation in incomes and educational achievement, heightening social distance and probably enhancing intergroup hostility see Williams et al. Instances of the former all from Grimshaw are the identification of hyperinvolvement a phenomenon in which interactants are so deeply involved in the ongoing that they miss the things they intend to monitor , defects of nerve a situation in which interactants know how to do something but are reluctant to do it because they are concerned that it may generate injury to self or another party , and phenomena such as topic avoidance, topic exploitation, and topic truncation the last occurring when it becomes obvious to an interactant that interactional goals are not going to be accomplished.

The paragraphs below will address things that have been learned from studies of language in use in 1 public bureaucracies in Sweden, focusing on narratives in the public domain , 2 organizations primarily in the United States , employing a conversation analytic method, 3 a specific event within a university a dissertation defense examined by an interdisciplinary group employing a range of approaches and asking a number of different questions, and 4 a sampling of more narrowly focused studies of language in use.

Focus on narrative: Czarniawska is a student of management and organization who disclaims linguistic or sociolinguistic competences language in use is nonetheless central to her analyses of public administration in Sweden. I find this surprising if true. The argument is dense, and the examples unfamiliar; the demonstration is persuasive both for the organizations studied and for the application of this perspective to other arenas of social life.

Czarniawska conceptualizes organizational life as stories, and organizational theories as ways of reading stories pp. She invokes Burke and Goffman in identifying drama and autobiography as special kinds of narratives p. She observes that stories not only can be vehicles for identity claiming by their tellers but also can be contested by other stories, unsuccessfully performed, and turned into serials and sagas ; importantly, all descriptions favor the theories of their tellers p.


An Introduction to Sociolinguistics, 7th Edition



An introduction to sociolinguistics



An Introduction to Sociolinguistics


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