Sociolingustics is the study between language and society. Sosiolinguistics is the study of inter relationships of language and social structure, linguistics variation and attitudes toward language. It is any set of linguistics form which pattern according to social factors.

The study of sociolinguistics also focuses on the language variations that emerge in the society.  For example, the way of how to speak of  a group of students is different from the way of a group of bus drivers. 


Sociolinguistics is the study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used.

Sociolinguistics divided into two:

  1. Micro-sociolinguistics

The study of language in relation to society deals with small group of people in certain community. Example: meeting.

  1. macro-sociolinguistics

The study of language related to how the society treats the language.  



Fundamental Concepts in Sociolinguistics

1. Speech Community

Speech community is a concept in sociolinguistics that describes a more or less discrete group of people who use language in a unique and mutually accepted way among themselves.

Speech communities can be members of a profession with a specialized jargon, distinct social groups like high school students or hip hop fans, or even tight-knit groups like families and friends. Members of speech communities will often develop slang or jargon to serve the group's special purposes and priorities.

 For example, your book Language Files gives you an example of speech from an older man with many well known characteristics of Appalachian English:

1) I used to could read. (double modal)

2) I ain't no girl now. (multiple negation)

3) He has a broken back ____ was never set. ("that" deletion)

4) Put some bakin' sody on it. (sody instead of soda)

5) I fell upside of the building. (lexical substitution--upside of for against the side of)

What they point out, though, is that the speaker is a native of Southern Ohio, not actually a native of Appalachia. And his speech is affected by factors such as age, sex, and socio-economic status.


2. High prestige and low prestige varieties

Crucial to sociolinguistic analysis is the concept of prestige; certain speech habits are assigned a positive or a negative value which is then applied to the speaker. This can operate on many levels.


3. Social network

Understanding language in society means that one also has to understand the social networks in which language is embedded. A social network is another way of describing a particular speech community in terms of relations between individual members in a community. A network could be loose or tight depending on how members interact with each other (Wardhaugh, 2002:126-127).


4. Internal vs. external language

In Chomskian linguistics, a distinction is drawn between I-language (internal language) and E-language (external language). In this context, internal language applies to the study of syntax and semantics in language on the abstract level; as mentally represented knowledge in a native speaker. External language applies to language in social contexts, i.e. behavioral habits shared by a community.


Language and dialect is an ambiguous term (Hougen: 1966). Common people see a dialect as non prestigious variety of language. Scholars see language and dialect as confusing term.

Hougen (1966) stated a dialect is language that is excluded for polite society.

  1. Criteria of language:
  2. Standardization
  3. Vitality: living community of speakers
  4. Historicity: sense of identity; social, political, religious, ethnicities.
  5. Autonomy: different from other language.
  6. Reduction: a particular variety maybe regarded as a sub-variety rather than as an independent entity. Ex: Pidgin.
  7. Mixture: purity
  8. De Facto norms: Good speaker Vs Poor speaker.

Dialect is subordinate variety of language.



Vernacular : 1st language I multilingual community, especially informal function.

Components of vernacular:

  1. Uncodified / unstandardized variety
  2. The way is acquired, example at home
  3. Circumscribed functions

Vernacular is the most colloquial variety in a person’s linguistics repertoire. It used for everyday interact.



Lingua francas is language of wider community. Lingua Franca is a language used for communication between 2 people whom the 1st language is different.



A pidgin is a language having no native speaker. A pidgin develops as a means of communication between people who do not have a common language.

Pidgin is two groups with different language communicating in a situation where there is also a third dominant language.

'The syntax of Pidgins can be quite unlike the languages from which terms were borrowed and modified, as can be seen in this example from an earlier stage of Tok PisiTn:

Baimbai                          hed                  bilongyu          i-arrait                       gain

(by and by)                   (head)             (belong you)   (he-alright)                (again)

‘Your head will soon get well again’'



It is a pidgin that has become the first language of a new generation of speakers. Creoles arise when Pidgin become mother tongues.(Aitchison:1994)

The process of pidginization (simplification of language) through:

  1. Reduction in morphology
  2. Reduction in syntax
  3. Reduction in pronounciation
  4. Extensive borrowing of words from local mother-tongue.

 The process of creolization:

  1. Expansion of morphology and syntax
  2. Regularization of the phonology
  3. Increase function
  4. Increase vocabulary





Diglossia is a characteristic of speech communities rather than individual. Individuals may be bilingual. Societies or communities are diglossic. In other words, the term diglossia describes societal or institutionalized bilingualism, where two varieties are require to cover all the community’s domains

In the narrow and original sense of the term. Diglossia has three crucial features or criteria:

1.Two distinct varieties of the same language are used in the community, with one regarded as a high ( or H ) variety and the other a low ( or L ).

2.Each variety is used for quite distinct function; H and L complement each other

3.No one uses the H variety in everyday conversation.


Another post: (no time to edit..)


Diglossia refers to speech community in which two or more varieties of the same language are used by some speakers under different conditions (Fergusson, 1996: 25). Speakers of a particular language can not be characterized as diglossic; only their behavior, or the behavior of the speech community can be considered diglossic. Thus, beliefs and attitudes about the language condition the maintenance of diglossia as a fact of linguistic culture. Habit, attitude, and values in a society are completing one another in order to avoid experience conflicts because of language. Diglossic situation exists if it has two distinct codes which show clear functional separation (Wardhaugh, 1998: 87). In each situation there is a ‘high’ variety (H) of language and a ‘low’ variety (L) which each variety has its own specialized functions, and each is viewed differently by those who are aware of both. For example in Switzerland situation, there are standard German (H) and Swiss German (L). Ferguson (in Wardhaugh, 1998: 87).


Fergusson differentiates a language into high language (H) for formal and serious matter and low language (L) for conversation and other informal uses. H relates to religion, education, high culture and L used at homeand at factory (1996: 27). Whereas Eggenwil (in Holmes, 1992: 32) defines that diglossia has three significant features or criteria:

1. Two distinct varieties of the same language are used in the community, with one regarded as a high (or H) variety and the other a low (or L) variety.

2. Each variety is used for quite distinct functions; H and l complement each other.

3. No one use the H variety in everyday conversation.


Those two varieties are close linguistically related in some cases than others. For example, the degree of difference in the pronunciation of H and L varies from place to place. The sounds of Swiss German are quite different from those of Standard German. The grammar of H is morphologically more complicated. Standard German uses more case markers on nouns and tense inflections on verbs than Swiss German, and standard French, the H variety in Haiti, uses more markers of number and gender on nouns than the L variety in Haitian Creole.


Holmes states that diglossia has been described as a stable situation. It is possible for two varieties to continue to exist side by side for centuries. For example, England was diglossic (in the broad sense) after 1066 when the Normans were in control. French was the language of the court, administration, the legal system, and high society in general. English was the language of the peasants in the fields and the streets. For example in the following words,


English      French      English

ox              boeuf         beef

sheep       mouton      mutton

calf            veau           veal

pig            porc           pork


The English calf becomes French veau as it moves from the farm to the dinner table. However, by the end of the 14th century English has displaced French, while absorbing huge numbers of French such as beef, mutton, veal, and pork, so there were no longer domains in which French was the appropriate language to use. In conclusion, diglossia is used to describe complementary code use in all communities. In all speech communities people use different varieties or codes in formal contexts, as opposed to relaxed casual situations. In other words, the variety at the formal end of the scale could be regarded as an H variety, while the most casual variety could be regarded as an L variety.



Fergusson, C. A. 1996. Sociolinguistic Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Holmes, Janet. 1992. An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. New York: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.

Wardhaugh, Ronald. 1998. An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. USA: Blackwell Publishers Inc.


Bilingualism is an individual’s ability to use more than one language variety. Individual bilingualism use of more that one languages or competence in more that one languages (Clyne:1997). Multilingualism is an individual’s ability to use many languages.

Mother Togue

  1. Language passed on by an individual’s mother
  2. Language known best
  3. Language of the heart

Researcher call mother tongue as first language (L1). Meanwhile second language (L2) is language learned after one’s first either out of necessity or by personal choice, to fulfill some special purpose; individual may or may not speak it as well as first language.


The societies have two high languages and one low language. Example: Malaysia have two High languages such as Melayu and English, and one low language, it is Low Malay.


Code Switching

Code-switching is a term in linguistics to refer to the use of more than one language or variety in conversation. People switch the code on purpose. There must be some reasons of changing into another language. When they unpurposedly use more than one language in one speech, it is called code mixing.



Ethnography of communication is related to language. It was introduced by Dell Hymes (ethnography of speaking). It studied base on speech community.

Speech community is a group of people that tied with at least one language / variety language and they also have norms.

Speech community consists of:

  1. Ways of speaking; it is tied by norm. It is the most general or primitive term.
  2. Speech situation; it is not related with speech but it’s a kind of umbrella. Many situations associated with or marked by the absence of speech. Example: Javanese wedding party: ceremonies, meal, etc.
  3. Speech event; it is activities or aspect of activities that are directly governed by rules or norms for the use of speech. Example: In Javanese wedding party. There is speech event hat related to language, such as atur pambagyo and ular-ular.
  4. Speech act; it is not related to sentence and grammatical level but it implicates both linguistics and social norms. Example: ular-ular in Javanese wedding party is giving advice to the couple, joke and even singing traditional songs.

They are having close relationship.


Component of Speech: SPEAKING

  1. Setting and Scene: place or location and psychological setting
  2. Participant: speaker-listener and addressee-addressor
  3. Ends: Outcomes and goal (particular occasion)
  4. Act: form and content (what is said)
  5. Key: tone and manner (serious, sarcastic, etc)
  6. Instrumentalities: choice of channel (oral, written)
  7. Norms: interaction and interpretation
  8. Genres: Types of Utterances ( poems, proverbs, prayers, etc)