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The Guidebook to Sociolinguistics

ISBN: 978-0-631-22865-3
386 pages
September 2013, Wiley-Blackwell
The Guidebook to Sociolinguistics (0631228659) cover image

The Guidebook to Sociolinguistics presents a comprehensive introduction to the main concepts and terms of sociolinguistics, and of the goals, methods, and findings of sociolinguistic research.

  • Introduces readers to the methodology and skills of doing hands-on research in this field
  • Features chapter-by-chapter classic and contemporary case studies, exercises, and examples to enhance comprehension
  • Offers wide-ranging coverage of topics across sociolinguistics. It begins with multilingualism, and moves on through language choice and variation to style and identity
  • Takes students through the challenges involved in conducting their own research project
  • Written by one of the leading figures in sociolinguistics
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List of Figures xi

List of Tables xiii

Preface xv

1 What Are Sociolinguistics? 1

1.1 What is language? 2

1.2 What is a language? 4

1.3 What then are sociolinguistics? 6

1.4 Neighbouring and overlapping fields 12

1.5 A guide to the guidebook 14

2 A Profusion of Languages 19

2.1 Being multilingual 19

2.2 Six dimensions of bilingualism 25

2.3 Approaches to multilingualism 29

2.4 Language surveys and censuses 33

2.5 The case of Canada 34

2.6 Research activity: A bilingual survey 39

2.7 Summary 41

2.8 Further reading 42

3 Language Shift and Maintenance 47

3.1 Introducing language contact 47

3.2 Language functions 50

3.3 Shifting languages 54

3.4 Maintaining and revitalizing languages 57

3.5 The case for M‚ori 62

3.6 Research activity: doing a project (1) – the setup 67

3.7 Summary 70

3.8 Further reading 71

4 Language Birth and Death 75

4.1 Pidgins and creoles 76

4.2 Where do pidgins and creoles come from? 79

4.3 The creole continuum 83

4.4 Language danger and death 84

4.5 The microlinguistics of dying languages 89

4.6 The cases of Gaelic and Melanesian 91

4.7 Research activity: the making of Melanesian Pidgin 95

4.8 Summary 97

4.9 Further reading 98

5 Codes and Choices 103

5.1 Varieties, codes and repertoires 103

5.2 The speech community 105

5.3 Diglossia 108

5.4 Code switching 113

5.5 The sociolinguistics of code switching 114

5.6 The case of Oberwart 119

5.7 Research activity: observation versus self-report 123

5.8 Summary 125

5.9 Further reading 126

6 Situated Language 131

6.1 Situations, contexts and domains 131

6.2 Ethnographies of communication 134

6.3 Speakers in situ 138

6.4 Audiences for language 140

6.5 Speech acts and politeness 142

6.6 The sociolinguistics of interaction 146

6.7 Gender and conversation 149

6.8 The case of slang in Rio 151

6.9 Research activity: ethnographing the class 155

6.10 Summary 156

6.11 Further reading 157

7 Variation in Language 163

7.1 Foundations: New York City 163

7.2 Class in language 168

7.3 Ethnicity in language 172

7.4 Ethnic varieties of English 176

7.5 Gender in language 179

7.6 The case of ING 181

7.7 Research activity: doing a project (2) – data collection 186

7.8 Summary 189

7.9 Further reading 190

8 Language in Time 195

8.1 Age in language 195

8.2 Real time and apparent time 200

8.3 The linguistics of language change 204

8.4 Sound change 207

8.5 The social life of language change 209

8.6 Markets, networks and communities 214

8.7 The case of Belten High 218

8.8 Research activity: language change on the internet 221

8.9 Summary 223

8.10 Further reading 224

9 Language in Space 229

9.1 Dialectology 229

9.2 Making space 234

9.3 Dialect contact 238

9.4 Dialect birth 243

9.5 Dialect death 246

9.6 The case of colonial Englishes 247

9.7 Research activity: linguistic landscape 249

9.8 Summary 250

9.9 Further reading 251

10 Valuing Language 255

10.1 Ideologies of language 256

10.2 Language with attitude 259

10.3 Evaluating individual linguistic variables 264

10.4 The Indexical Cycle 268

10.5 Discriminating language 272

10.6 The case of Bakhtin 278

10.7 Research activity: doing a project (3) – results and reporting 282

10.8 Summary 286

10.9 Further reading 287

11 Styling Language and Identities 293

11.1 Two takes on style 293

11.2 Audience design 297

11.3 Referee design 303

11.4 Performing sociolinguistic identities 306

11.5 The case of Marlene Dietrich 310

11.6 Research activity: a performance language project 314

11.7 Summary 318

11.8 Further reading 319

12 Theory and Engagement 323

12.1 The place of the social in sociolinguistics 323

12.2 Structure and agency 326

12.3 Towards a socially constituted sociolinguistics 329

References 333

Index 357

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Allan Bell is Professor of Language & Communication, and Director of the Institute of Culture, Discourse & Communication at Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand. He is the Editor of the Journal of Sociolinguistics (Wiley-Blackwell), and of several books on New Zealand English and other languages.

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  • Provides a comprehensive introduction to the main ideas and terms of sociolinguistics, and of the aims, methods, and findings of sociolinguistic research
  • Introduces readers to the methodology and skills of doing hands-on research in this field
  • Features chapter-by-chapter classic and contemporary case studies, exercises, and examples to enhance comprehension
  • Offers wide-ranging coverage of topics across sociolinguistics. It begins with multilingualism, and moves on through language choice and variation to style and identity
  • Takes students through the challenges involved in conducting their own research project
  • Written by one of the leading figures in sociolinguistics
See More

“A major strength of this book is indeed the focus on research. Bell not only provides different types of data from the field, but also detailed explanations on how data has been collected and interpreted. . . a fine candidate for an undergraduate sociolinguistics course. It introduces the key topics, provides lots of excellent and modern examples and is written in an accessible style suitable for introducing material to students not yet familiar with linguistic theory or social science research methodology.”  (Linguistlist, 14 July 2014)

“In seeking answers to these and myriad other questions through reading and engaging with Bell’s book, students and researchers alike will find substantive knowledge, lofty wisdom, and inspiration to carry forward the tradition of study of the world’s rich social and linguistic diversity in which Bell has long played a key part.”  (Journal of Sociolinguistics, 3 June 2014)

“No one sees and synthesizes the theoretical connections between diverse strands of sociolinguistic research better than Allan Bell.  His Guidebook to Sociolinguistics is comprehensive, up-to-date, and especially rich in fresh examples and perspectives.”
John R. Rickford, Stanford University

“The Guidebook to Sociolinguistics offers … integrated exercises derived from Bell’s extensive research background and allows readers to experience both the operational details of primary analysis and the theoretical constructs that underlie the field of sociolinguistics. It’s the perfect introduction!”
Walt Wolfram, North Carolina State University

"Allan Bell brings his great wealth of experience as researcher, teacher and editor of the Journal of Sociolinguistics to tell us not just what sociolinguistics is but how sociolinguistics is done. Best of all, he shows how we can do sociolinguistics ourselves."
Jenny Cheshire, Queen Mary, University of London

“Bell has provided a detailed and authoritative road map to sociolinguistics. Carefully structured, clearly written, lively and accessible throughout, the Guidebook introduces all the major traditions of sociolinguistics, pin-pointing the most important sources and perspectives, supported by a wealth of practical examples and exercises.
Nikolas Coupland, Copengahen University and University of Technology Sydney

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