This seminar is situated in the broad field of sociolinguistics, i.e. the study of the relationship between language and society, drawing also on the theories of Gender, Queer, and Cultural Studies. As Fishman put it, sociolinguistics deals with “who speaks (or writes) what language (or what language variety) to whom and when and to what end” (1972: 46). In this seminar we examine the role of language in a variety of social contexts in order to develop insights into how language works and how it can be used to signal identities and to convey social meaning. We investigate the positioning of categories such as race, class, and gender in social and historical contexts and analyze how individuals negotiate these positionings. This class focuses on linguistic variation in a two-fold way, i.e. by focusing both on language use and on the user. The students of this class will learn the basic terminology and main strands of sociolinguistic research; classic approaches in sociolinguistics will be complemented by more recent research.
Alim , H. Samy, John R. Rickford, and Arnetha Ball, ed. 2016. Raciolinguistics: How Language Shapes our Ideas about Race. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bucholtz, Mary and Kira Hall (eds). 1995. Gender Articulated: Language and the Culturally Constructed Self. New York: Routledge.
Eckert, Penelope. 2012 Three waves of variation study: The emergence of meaning in the study of sociolinguistic variation. Annual Review of Anthropology. 41. 87-100.
Holmes, Janet & Nick Wilson: An Introduction to Sociolinguistics, 5th ed. New York: Routledge.
Levon, Erez. 2015. Integrating Intersectionality in Language, Gender, and Sexuality Research. Language and Linguistics Compass. 9(7): 295-308.
Levon, Erez. 2015 Language, Sexuality, and Power: Studies in Intersectional Sociolinguistics. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
Meyerhoff, Miriam. 2006. Introducing Sociolinguistics. London: Routledge.
Trudgill, Peter. 2000. Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and Society. 4th ed. London: Penguin.