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An Introduction to Sociolinguistics

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  • Edition: 8th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2021-04-12
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

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The new eighth edition of An Introduction to Sociolinguistics brings this valuable, bestselling textbook up to date with the latest in sociolinguistic research and pedagogy, providing a broad overview of the study of language in social context with accessible coverage of major concepts, theories, methods, issues, and debates within the field. This leading text helps students develop a critical perspective on language in society as they explore the complex connections between societal norms and language use. The eighth edition contains new and updated coverage of such topics as the societal aspects of African American Vernacular English (AAVE), multilingual societies and discourse, gender and sexuality, ideologies and language attitudes, and the social meanings of linguistic forms.

Organized in four sections, this text first covers traditional language issues such as the distinction between languages and dialects, identification of regional and social variation within languages, and the role of context in language use and interpretation. Subsequent chapters cover approaches to research in sociolinguistics—variationist sociolinguistics, ethnography, and discourse analytic research—and address both macro– and micro-sociolinguistic aspects of multilingualism in national, transnational, global, and digital contexts. The concluding section of the text looks at language in relation to gender and sexuality, education, and language planning and policy issues. Featuring examples from a variety of languages and cultures that illustrate topics such as social and regional dialects, multilingualism, and the linguistic construction of identity, this text provides perspectives on both new and foundational research in sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology.

An Introduction to Sociolinguistics, Eighth Edition, remains the ideal textbook for upper-level undergraduate and graduate course in sociolinguistics, language and society, linguistic anthropology, applied and theoretical linguistics, and education. The new edition has also been updated to support classroom application with a range of effective pedagogical tools, including end-of-chapter written exercises and an instructor website, as well as materials to support further learning such as reading suggestions, research ideas, and an updated companion student website containing a searchable glossary, a review guide, additional exercises and examples, and links to online resources.

Author Biography

Ronald Wardhaugh is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Toronto, Canada. He is the author of a number of books, including Proper English (Wiley Blackwell, 1998) and Understanding English Grammar, Second Edition (Wiley Blackwell, 2003). 

Janet M. Fuller is Professor and Chair of Language and Society, Department of European Languages and Cultures, University of Groningen, The Netherlands. Her previous publications have explored many aspects of multilingualism, with a recent focus on language ideologies, social identities, and discourses of national belonging. She is author of Spanish Speakers in the USA and Bilingual Pre-teens, and co-author of Speaking Spanish in the US and co-editor of Studies in Contact Linguistics.  

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

Key Concepts

The Nature of Language

symbol – icon - index

Knowledge of Language

Competence and Performance

Variation: expand this to include more information about variables from chapter 6 7e

Speakers and Their Groups

Language and Culture

Directions of Influence

The Whorfian Hypothesis: recent discussion in linguistics: McWhorter book and reviews


The interdisciplinary legacy of Sociolinguistics: brief synopsis of the intellectual traditions informing the study of language in society

Identities (brief intro)

Ideologies (brief intro: iconicity, recursiveness, erasure)

Overview of the Book

Chapter Summary

Further Reading



Part I Languages, Communities, and Context

2 Languages, Dialects, and Varieties

Key Concepts

Language or Dialect?

Mutual Intelligibility

The Role of Social Identity


The Standard as an Abstraction

The Standardization Process

The Standard and Language Change

Standard English?

The Standard-Dialect Hierarchy

Regional Dialects

Dialect Continua

Dialect Geography

Everyone Has an Accent

Social Dialects

Kiezdeutsch ‘Neighborhood German

Ethnic Dialects

African American Vernacular English

Features of AAVE

Development of AAVE

Indexicality, Intertextuality, Enregisterment, Entextualization: instead of focusing on the static concepts of style and register, this section will be revised to include more recent work in sociolinguistics about how particular forms are used to create social meaning; use example of memes

Chapter Summary

Further Reading



3 Defining Groups

Key Concepts

Speech Communities

Linguistic Boundaries

Shared Norms

Communities of Practice

Social Networks: expanded to include information from chapter 6, 7e

Social Identities (tactics of subjectivity)

Beliefs about Language and Social Groups


Language Attitudes: an introduction to this will be incorporated here, to be followed up in chapter 5

Perceptual Dialectology

Chapter Summary

Further Reading



4 Language in Context: Pragmatics

Key Concepts

Speech Acts


Locutions, Illocutionary Acts, and Perlocutions



The Concept of Cooperation



Positive and Negative Politeness

Politeness World-Wide

Politeness and Indirectness


Tu and Vous: Power and Solidarity

Pronouns and Positioning

Naming and Titles

Fluidity and Change in Address Terms

Chinese Comrades

Chapter Summary

Further Reading



Part II:  Theory and Methods

5 Language Variation and Change

Key concepts

The Linguistic Variable


Types of Linguistic Variables

Indicators, Markers and Stereotypes

Data Collection and Analysis in Variation Research

The Observer’s Paradox

The Sociolinguistic Interview


Apparent Time and Real Time

Correlations: Dependent and Independent Variables

Regional Variation

Mapping Dialects

Methods in Dialectology

Dialect Mixture and Free Variation

Second Dialect Acquisition

Social Variation




Social Class Membership

The First Wave of Variation Studies

The fourth floor

Early work on gender

The Second Wave of Variation Studies

Social networks


Jocks and burnout

The Third Wave of Variation Studies


Language Variation and Change

Some Changes in Progress

The Northern Cities Shift

Change Across Space: Urban Centers and Physical Barriers

Change Over Time Or Age-Grading?

Martha’s Vineyard

Gender and Language Change

Language Change and the Linguistic Marketplace

Chapter Summary

Further Reading



6 Ethnographic Approaches to Sociolinguistics

Key Concepts

Ethnography of Communication

Communicative Competence


Ethnography and Beyond


Background Knowledge as Part of Communication

Commonsense Knowledge and Practical Reasoning

Garfinkel and His Students: Studies in Ethnomethodology

Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis

Linguistic Ethnography

Digital Ethnographies: Research in Online Communities

The role of Ethnography in Variationist Research

7 Discourse Analysis

Key Concepts

Conversation Analysis

Adjacency Pairs





Institutional Talk

Interactional Sociolinguistics

Data and Methodologies



Intercultural Communication

Corpus Linguistics




Critical Discourse Analysis

Contrasts and Critiques

Methodologies and Connections

Chapter Summary

Further Reading



Part III: Multilingual Matters

8 Languages in Contact: Multilingual Societies and Multilingual Discourse 

Key Concepts

Multilingualism as a Societal Phenomenon

Competencies and Convergence in Multilingual Societies

Language Ideologies Surrounding Multilingualism

Linguistic Landscapes – expanded to reflect the wealth of research on this topic in the last few years

Language Attitudes in Multilingual Settings



The Statuses of the H and L Languages

Extended Diglossia and Language Maintenance

Questioning Diglossia

Multilingual Discourse

A brief history of concepts and models; from Metaphors to Markedness

Multilingual Identities: Hybridity, Metrolingualism, Transnationalism and Appropriation

Variationist Research on Language Contact

Chapter Summary

Further Reading



9 Contact Languages: Structural Consequences of Social Factors

Key Concepts

Lingua Francas

Pidgin and Creole Languages: Definitions

Connections between P/C Languages and Second Language Acquisition

Pidgin and Creole Formation

Theories of Creole Genesis

Geographical Distribution

Linguistic Characteristics of P/C Languages




From Pidgin to Creole and Beyond

Creole Continuum?

Other Contact Varieties:  Mixed Languages

Chapter Summary

Further Reading



10 Language and Nation and Beyond

Language and nation

National languages (links to language policy)

Language and national identities

Learning to be a citizen:  language and naturalization

Colonialization and Post-Colonialism

Language and Immigration (links to chapter 5)

Language and integration


Diversity and Superdiversity


Globalization (links to section on English World Wide in chapter 13)


Language and the Digital World

Part IV: Sociolinguistics and Social Justice

11 Language, Gender and Sexuality

Key Concepts

Defining Terms: Gender, Sex Category, and Sexuality

Sexist Language

Grammatical Gender Marking

Language Change

Discourses of Gender and Sexuality

Some Common Discourses

Deficit, Dominance, Difference and Identities

Women’s Language



Gender and Sexuality Identities

Chapter Summary

Further Reading



12 Sociolinguistics and Education

Key Concepts

Social Dialects and Education

Restricted and Elaborated Codes

Difference Not Deficit

Role of the Home Dialect in Education

African American Vernacular English and Education

Applied Sociolinguistics

Multilingual Education


Use of Minority Languages in the Classroom

Elite and Immigrant Bilingualism

Education and World Wide English

Circles of English

Elite Closure

English in Europe

Chapter Summary

Further Reading



13 Language Policy and Planning

Key Concepts

Terminology, Concepts, and Development of the Field

Types of Language Planning

The Intellectual History of LPP

Data and Methods

LPP and Nationalization

LPP in Turkey: Orthography and Purity

LPP in the Soviet Union and the Post-Soviet Era: From Russification to Nationalization

Official Monolingualism in France

Multilingual Policy in Belgium

LPP in Post- and Neo-Colonial Contexts



LPP in the United States and Canada

The United States of America


Multilingual Countries and LPP

Papua New Guinea


Endangered Languages and the Spread of English

Endangered Languages

English World-Wide

Chapter Summary

Further Reading





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The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

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