Relationship Between Language and Society B.ed Notes

“Language is both a system of communication between individuals and a social phenomenon.” Sociolinguistics, the study of language and society, aims to demonstrate how class, gender, ethnicity, and other characteristics influence how we use language.

Anthropological linguistics is a branch of this field that studies how language is used and formed in various cultures and how much the cultural environment has impacted language evolution. Sociolinguistics, the study of language and society, may be traced back to the middle of the 20th century. Prior to then, authors discussed how socially important criteria, such as class, occupation, age, or gender, had an impact on or even led language use. In fact, Ferdinand de Saussure (1857–1913), the founder of modern linguistics, regarded language as a sort of social behaviour, reflecting the thinking of French sociology at the time, especially that of Emile Durkheim, a contemporary of his (1858-1917).

However, it took several decades following the introduction of Saussurean structuralism for a paradigm for examining social aspects in language usage to become accessible. Several linguists in America started looking at the social aspects of English usage in the country in the early 1960s. Since then, a deluge of books in similar style have appeared, mostly in America but also shortly after in Europe (notably in Britain).

Traditional dialectology is where sociolinguistics got its start. The two fields have a shared interest in linguistic variety; one is concerned with socially caused variation, and the other is concerned with geographically determined variation.

Modern sociolinguists, however, find many components of dialectological study to be inappropriate. The primary shortcoming of nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century dialect examinations was that their respondents were biassed, making them unrepresentative.

As informants, preference was given to older, male, non-mobile speakers from rural areas. Due to the fact that many dialectologists were trained as historical linguists, they were usually interested in identifying the most ancient dialects still in use at the time, frequently under the mistaken belief that the more ancient dialects were somehow more “authentic.” The types of speakers who were just mentioned were thought to speak the most traditional, and hence most authentic, version of a language at any particular moment.

This viewpoint diverges significantly from that of contemporary sociolinguistics. All social groups—young and elderly, male and female, rural and urban—use language. Indeed, sociolinguists are frequently interested in language usage in cities since the majority of people in western nations currently reside in urban areas and because such populations tend to produce significant quantities of linguistic variety. Employing objective approaches is required to achieve fair analyses of language in society.

The selection of informants must be done with care in order to avoid bias from the linguist or field worker. Additionally, one drawback of actively questioning informants is that the field worker’s influence on the language the informants use tends to standardise it. It is significantly better and less likely to skew the results when participants in a discussion are unaware of their role as informants. Here, a variety of approaches have been created. For instance, encouraging informants to discuss emotional issues typically diverts their focus from their language use and so promotes a more natural style, or what linguists refer to as a “vernacular style.”