Sociolinguistics and Language Development



9 Questions

What is sociolinguistics?

What are some methods used to study sociolinguistics?

Who pioneered the study of sociolinguistics?

What are some demographic variables that sociolinguistics studies?

What is the foundational method of collecting data for sociolinguistic studies?

What are restricted and elaborated codes according to Basil Bernstein?

What is the difference between restricted and elaborated codes?

What is hypercorrection in relation to speech patterns?

What is the study of language variation concerned with?


Aspects of Language and Society: A Summary

  • Sociolinguistics studies the effect of society on language and the effect of language on society.

  • It overlaps with linguistic anthropology and pragmatics.

  • Sociolinguistics studies how language usage varies among social classes and produces reflective socio-economic classes.

  • Sociolinguistics can be studied through interviews, matched-guise tests, and observations of dialects and speaking.

  • The study of sociolinguistics was pioneered by linguists such as William Labov and Basil Bernstein.

  • Sociolinguistics can be applied to study how social attitudes determine appropriate and inappropriate language use and how language is used as a social institution.

  • Sociolinguistics studies the variation in language usage based on demographic variables such as ethnicity, religion, gender, level of education, age, etc.

  • The sociolinguistic interview is the foundational method of collecting data for sociolinguistic studies.

  • Fundamental concepts in sociolinguistics include speech community, high prestige and low prestige varieties, and social network.

  • Sociolinguistics studies class and occupation as linguistic markers in society.

  • Class aspirations influence speech patterns, resulting in hypercorrection.

  • Basil Bernstein developed the method for categorizing language codes according to variable emphases on verbal and extraverbal communication.Language Codes and Child Development

  • Basil Bernstein defined restricted and elaborated codes which are two different types of communication patterns.

  • Restricted code is typical in environments where social roles are predetermined and communication is performed more through extraverbal means.

  • Elaborated code is typical in environments where a variety of social roles are available to the individual, to be chosen based upon disposition and temperament.

  • Bernstein explains language development according to the two codes in light of their fundamentally different values.

  • A child exposed solely to restricted code learns extraverbal communication over verbal, and therefore may have a less extensive vocabulary than a child raised with exposure to both codes.

  • Children who have been exposed solely to restricted code may encounter difficulties upon entering formal education.

  • It may be beneficial for children who have been exposed solely to restricted code to enter pre-school training in elaborated code in order to acquire a manner of speaking that is considered appropriate and widely comprehensible within the education environment.

  • Studies show a relative lack of success on verbal tasks in comparison to extraverbal in children from lower working classes (having been exposed solely to restricted code).

  • The idea of these social language codes from Bernstein contrasts with famous linguist Noam Chomsky's ideas.

  • The study of language variation is concerned with social constraints determining language in its contextual environment.

  • Variation may also be associated with gender, ethnicity, economic status, level of education, etc.


Test your knowledge of sociolinguistics and language development with this quiz! From the foundational concepts of speech community and high prestige varieties to the different language codes and their impact on child development, this quiz covers a range of topics in language and society. See how much you know about the pioneers of sociolinguistics, the methods used to study language variation, and the social constraints that shape language use. Take this quiz and explore the fascinating intersection of language and society!

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