Sociolinguistics and Intergroup Communication

Authored by: Maria Stubbe

The Handbook of Intergroup Communication

Print publication date:  May  2012
Online publication date:  June  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415889643
eBook ISBN: 9780203148624
Adobe ISBN: 9781136513619


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Sociolinguistics is broadly concerned with the relationship between language and society. More particularly, it seeks to understand how and why the use of language varies depending on the social context and people involved and, conversely, how language use in its turn helps to shape the relationships between individuals and groups. Analyses can focus on any aspect or level of language use, including both the structural elements of language such as the lexicon, syntax, or phonology, and various contingent aspects of language in context, including speech styles, pragmatics, and the fine-grained detail of interactional form and function. The domains of inquiry are equally wide: a sociolinguistic lens is commonly applied to studies of regional and social dialects, language shift and change, multilingualism and language policy, intercultural or intergroup miscommunication, language and gender, intergenerational communication, and to the workings of language, power, and identity (see Chapter 9, this volume) in various every day and institutional settings. Almost by definition, questions of social identity and intergroup communication have been at the center of sociolinguistic inquiry, directly or implicitly, since its inception as a distinct field in the 1950s. Along with social psychology (see Chapter 2, this volume), sociolinguistics thus constitutes one of the main academic traditions underpinning this area of research.

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