Foundations in Sociolinguistics: An Ethnographic Approach
Sociolinguistics is conceived here as a fundamental critical perspective on the whole of the study of language. The scientific problems within present linguistics, the book contends, combine with social problems of the society in which linguists participate to press linguistics to discover ethnographic foundations. The work of providing such foundations largely remains to be done. Working out the implications of these three principles requires a new mode of description of linguistic features and relationships, a mode which can treat the verbal means of a community as a part of its organization of communicative means.
In Part One, Dell Hymes indicates the place of linguistic inquiry as part of an inquiry into communicable conduct in general. Part Two demonstrates the mutual relation between linguistics and other disciplines that contribute to the common larger field—sociology, social anthropology, education, folklore, and poetics are discussed. In Part Three the author argues that problems within linguistic inquiry suggest social foundations of linguistics deeper than presently assumed, such that social meaning and stylistic function must be taken into account systematically, and social life seen as a source of the organization of linguistic means.