Sociolinguistics, Speech community

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Summary

Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and the effects of language use on society. Sociolinguistics differs from sociology of language in that the focus of sociolinguistics is the effect of the society on the language, while the sociology of language focuses on language's effect on the society. Sociolinguistics overlaps to a considerable degree with pragmatics. It is historically closely related to linguistic anthropology and the distinction between the two fields has even been questioned recently.

Details

Speech community is a concept in sociolinguistics that describes a distinct group of people who use language in a unique and mutually accepted way among themselves. This is sometimes referred to as a Sprechbund.

To be considered part of a speech community, one must have a communicative competence. That is, the speaker has the ability to use language in a way that is appropriate in the given situation. It is possible for a speaker to be communicatively competent in more than one language.

Speech communities can be members of a profession with a specialized jargon, distinct social groups like high school students or hip hop fans, or even tight-knit groups like families and friends. Members of speech communities will often develop slang or jargon to serve the group's special purposes and priorities.

Community of Practice allows for sociolinguistics to examine the relationship between socialization, competence, and identity. Since identity is a very complex structure, studying language socialization is a means to examine the micro interactional level of practical activity (everyday activities). The learning of a language is greatly influenced by family but it is supported by the larger local surroundings, such as school, sports teams, or religion. Speech communities may exist within a larger community of practice.

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External Links

  • WikipediaSociolinguistics: an interview with William Labov

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