Language in Society: An Introduction to Sociolinguistics

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Oxford University Press, 1994 - Science - 235 pages
Why have 1500 separate languages developed in the Pacific islands of Melanesia? Why do Danes understand Norwegian better than Norwegians understand Danish? Why is a Cornish accent rated higher than Cockney speech but lower than Oxford English? Are British and American English different languages? Linguistics tends to ignore the relationship between languages and the societies in which they are spoken, while sociology generally overlooks the role of language in the constitution of society. Suzanne Romaine provides a clear, lively, and accessible introduction to the field of sociolinguistics, emphasizing the constant interaction between society and language. She discusses both traditional and more recent issues such as language and social class, language and gender, language in education, pidgins and creoles, and language change. She shows how our linguistic choices are motivated by social factors, and how certain ways of speaking come to be vested with symbolic value. In her examples she draws on studies of cultures all over the world, including her own extensive field work in Papua New Guinea, Hawaii, and Britain.

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