Sociolinguistics

 

Spring 2017

Applied Linguistics 8470; CRN: 12575
Monday 4:30-7, 320 Arts & Humanities


Instructor:   Dr. Stephanie Lindemann
Office: 25 Park Place, Room 1528
Phone: 404-413-5177
E-mail: lindemann@gsu.edu
Office Hours:  Thursday 3-4 and by appointment

 

This is the official version of the syllabus.

 

Course Description:

This course is an introduction to sociolinguistics, the study of the relationship between language and society. We will look at variation at all levels of language and how such variation constructs and is constructed by identity and culture. An exploration of attitudes and ideologies about these varieties will be of particular importance to understanding this relationship. We will also consider some of the educational, political, and social repercussions of these sociolinguistic facts.

 

Course Reading:

The textbooks for the course are available at the GSU bookstore:

Bell, Allan (2014). The Guidebook to Sociolinguistics. Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell.

Lippi-Green, Rosina (2012). English with an Accent: Language, Ideology, and Discrimination in the United States. New York: Routledge.

 

All other readings can be saved and/or printed from iCollege. Let me know right away if you're having trouble accessing the readings.

Additional resources on the web can be found by accessing my "Linguistics Links" page at http://www2.gsu.edu/~eslsal/links.htm.

 
 

Evaluation:

10% Class participation (includes preparation for class based on readings)

30% Observation project

25% Language description project

5% Presentation on final paper topic

30% Final Paper

 

The grading scale is A+ 98-100, A 94-97, A- 90-93, B+ 87-89, B 84-86, B- 80-83, C+ 77-79, etc.

 

Participation:

Effective participation requires preparation. It is crucial to come to class having carefully read and thought about the day's reading. Discussion questions for the readings will be posted on the web syllabus each week to help guide you to think about the general ideas that I find particularly important about the readings. These will be a starting point for discussion, so you should take notes on and think about the questions before class. I may collect your answers to discussion questions if I am dissatisfied with class preparation & participation.

 

If you are shy and don’t like to speak in class, try to do it anyway. It’s useful for everyone to hear how each other’s varied experiences and viewpoints relate to the reading. If you are having real difficulty speaking up, it is a good idea to come talk to me about the discussion questions and your own questions and thoughts about the reading (preferably before the class period when they will be discussed so that you can still take part in the discussion, if only indirectly). If you know you will need to miss class, you should e-mail me your responses to the discussion questions, plus any additional comments and questions you have, before class.



Observation Project (due February 27th):

Work in pairs (of your choosing), or if necessary, alone, to prepare and submit an observation project that will explore variability in American English (if you are interested in looking at some other variety, come discuss it with me before your topic is due on January 30th). The purpose of the project is for you to:

a)      become more aware of the types of variation in English (across dialects in the US, within “Standard” American English in the US, and across and within world varieties of English)

b)     gain experience in basic analysis of language variation data and learn about some of the complexities involved    

c) make you aware of issues of concern to the ESL/EFL teacher, including the learner's target variety, error/testing/assessment, and materials adaptation/lesson planning.

Working in pairs is strongly recommended, as you will need to collect at least 40 tokens of some linguistic variable, and this is easier if you have two sets of ears listening for them.

 

Observation Project Instructions:

 

1. Choose an item of American English that exhibits variability in the same linguistic and social context. Some examples are:

"if I were" vs. "if I was"

"real" and "really" or "good" and "well" used as adverbs

the use of objective (e.g., me) vs. nominative (e.g., I) case in object or subject position (particularly conjoined NPs such as "between you and I" or "Me and my brother went")

pronouns used to replace singular nouns of unspecified gender (e.g., "Someone has left their books here.")

the use of "whom"

speech acts, such as greetings, responses to "thank you," apologies, requests, etc.

 

These are only a few examples. You have many options to choose from--think of your pet grammar peeve and you're likely to find a good topic. The most important criterion is that the item that you choose must exhibit variability. That is, it must be the case that there is more than one form used in the same context. For example, some people would say "between you and me" and other people would say "between you and I". Or, the same person might say "between you and me" in some situations and "between you and I" in others. In addition, your item must be something that is typically taught in ESL classes.

 

2.      Collect data. Each time you hear (or see) a variant of your item, write it down with the utterance you heard it in (i.e. don't just write down "who", but write down "I don't know who you're talking about"). Keep your ears open (or your eyes--printed materials are sources too). Every time you record a token, also record demographic information about the speaker and addressee(s) (sex, age, race/ethnicity, place of origin, relationship between the two interlocutors) and information about the setting. This is very important. What you are trying to do is to uncover the patterns of usage of your variable. These patterns typically reveal themselves in the categories listed above. For example, Southerners may be more likely to say "y'all" for plural "you" than Northerners, and Northerners might be more likely to say "you guys". If you collected lots of tokens of ways to say plural "you", then you could look at the characteristics of speakers or settings to see who was using which variant in which setting. To help prepare for your analysis, enter each token with its data into a spreadsheet. Click here for an example.

 

3.      Once you have collected at least 40 tokens/examples, look for variation. First, identify all the variants you have found. Next, look for patterns. This means that you will look at, for example, how often different social groups (for example, groups by age or gender) used each of the variants and then compare groups to each other (for example, men to women). You might find, for example, that only women use "whom" and that men rarely do. You should also look at other variables such as settings or regions of origin. You might find, for example, that "whom" only occurs in print and never (or rarely) in spoken language. Your data probably won't fall into discrete categories, but you will notice tendencies for there to be factors that condition the occurrence of specific variants.

 

4.      After doing the analysis, prepare a written report to be handed in on the observation project due date. I will provide a link to a sample paper here (not including the appendix with the full data set) once everyone has turned in their topics with their intial data. In fact here it is! (click here for a sample paper on ways of expressing liking). The report should describe:

a)      the aspect of American English that you have collected your data on

b)      how you collected your data

c)      the variants you have discovered

d)      an analysis of your data with a table for each of the analytic categories that you found to demonstrate patterning (e.g., Table 1: the variant as it is distributed by gender, Table 2: the variant as it is distributed by age, Table 3: the variant as it is distributed by setting)

e)      how your results compare with explanations given in 3 different ESL textbooks (many different textbooks are available for your perusal in the library and in the AL GA lounge)

f)       the implications of your findings for teaching ESL

g)      a table in an appendix that shows all the data that you have collected (i.e. the variants and all the related demographic information for each token).

 

In the discussion of your results, consider what you already know about variation from the literature (i.e., what we've read in this course) and how your results fit in. Notice that your report will have seven sections--the seven described above--including an appendix. You and your partner will turn in one paper and both receive the same grade for the project, so be sure that you pick someone with compatible work habits and/or someone you know will share the work!

 

When you turn in your topic, you should include: what variable you are observing, at least 2 possible variants of that variable, and all data on the first few tokens you have collected.

 

*** This project is not one that you will want to put off until the last minute. Students who have done this project in the past have found that it was interesting and rewarding, but that the data analysis in particular took a lot of time.

 

Language Description Project (due April 10th):

Collect data on reactions to recorded speech by (at least) two friends or family members. I will provide you with two sets of recordings in digital format (as .wav files). The purpose of the project is to:

a)      reflect on the readings in a more personal way; relate the readings to your experience with reactions to different varieties, considering whether your findings support the claims made in the readings and how and why they might differ

b)      consider the implications of reactions to language varieties for the speakers' interactions with others and for language teaching

Human subjects training (Basic Courses in the Protection of Human Research Subjects, Social and Behavioral Focus) must be completed before you can get the study materials (February 13th). This is done on an online course at https://www.citiprogram.org/default.asp. A handout will be given out with more specific instructions on how to choose participants and conduct the study, a consent form, and a language background form. The actual data should be collected by March 27th, when an Excel spreadsheet with the quantitative data for your participants is due (Click here for the Excel template for entering data. The document name is to remind you to rename it to your own name before emailing the data to me.). I will compile everyone's data and provide this information to the entire class to be used in your write-ups of the project. The write-up will involve answering questions I will give to you when I give you the compiled data. These questions will require you to describe and reflect on your own experiences and relate your findings and the overall class findings to the readings and the discussions in class.

 

Paper (due April 27th, 11:59pm):

Write a library research paper of ~15 (12-18) pages on a sociolinguistic topic of your choice. The purpose of this assignment is to give you an opportunity to explore in depth a topic that you have found interesting. For the presentation (April 24th), provide a handout for the class that clearly shows what you looked at and what the main questions, findings, and/or problems are. It should also include a list of the references you are planning to use. The presentation itself should be no longer than 5 minutes (in order to allow everyone to have time to present).

 

General requirements for written work:

1.      All work should be typed and double-spaced. Each paper should be turned in as a Word attachment to an email, with your last name as the first part of the file name. Papers should be emailed to me from your student email accounts before the class period that they are due.

2.      Use APA format (you can use a paper published in any major applied linguistics journal as an example to follow and/or find resources on the web), including non-sexist language. If you need more information about what constitutes sexist language and how to avoid it, you can consult the APA manual or talk to me.

3.      Any material taken from a source needs to be identified as such, even if you have changed the wording. Failure to attribute material to its original author will be considered plagiarism and will result in a zero grade. Read the university policy on academic honesty online at http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwfhb/sec409.html. Make sure you understand the appropriate use of sources in your work; if you still have questions after reading the policy, be sure to ask!

4.      Assignments will be graded on depth of coverage (comprehensive/ thorough treatment of the topic reflecting a clear understanding of the subject), presentation (clear, concise, readable prose), and argument (strength of evidence, and attention to counter arguments where necessary).

5.      In case of an emergency that interferes with your work in this class, talk to me as soon as you can. I normally don't accept late assignments; when I do, I may take off points for each day late.

 

Program learning outcomes

Evaluation

Demonstrate knowledge of the linguistic systems of English phonology, grammar, and discourse

Observation project, possibly final paper (depending on topic)

Use cultural knowledge in second language learning and teaching

Class discussion, possibly final paper (depending on topic)

Analyze and critique theory and practice of L2 teaching and learning

Class discussion, observation project, possibly final paper (depending on topic)

Connect theory and practice

Class discussion, observation project, possibly final paper (depending on topic)

Communicate effectively in both written and oral language

All assignments

Use technology effectively in research

Research for final paper using online databases



Schedule*

 

*This schedule is subject to change. For example, we may spend more or less time covering some topics, based in part on your feedback. This means that you can play a role in deciding what is covered in class and in what detail, but it also means that you are responsible for making sure you know what you need to do for each class.

 

Date Topic Assignment due on first day listed
1/9 Introduction (Bell Ch 1)
quotations discussed in class
1/16 Martin Luther King Day NO CLASS
1/23 The linguistic ‘facts of life’ Lippi-Green Ch 1 & Ch 4; Bell p. 5, Ch 2 pp19-33
language change and prescriptivism (meme)
1/30 Language Birth & Death, Codes Bell Ch4 & Ch 5
Observation project topics (including initial data) due
pidgin or creole?
why code-switch?
notes on both handouts from in-class discussion
2/6 Language Variation & Change Bell Ch7 & Ch8
vowel shifts past and present
what social class?
2/13 Language Variation & Change (cont.); Valuing Language Bell Ch 9 & Ch10
language ideological processes
Human Subjects Training must be completed
2/20 Styling Language Bell Ch 11, Snell 2010
Snell Table 1
Bell figure 11.1, quote p. 303
two first person possessive tokens from Rod Stewart, courtesy of Monique :-)
2/27 Situated language Bell Ch 6
ethnography of speaking (Hymes 1974)
speech acts across cultures (Wierzbicka 1991)
Observation projects due via email; attach Word doc & Excel xls
3/6 Power, Solidarity, and Cross-Cultural Communication Tannen 1981, Gumperz 2001, Ostermann 2003
Read instructions for language description project (to be emailed); bring any questions you have
3/13 Spring break NO CLASS
3/20 AAVE Lippi-Green Ch 5 & Ch10, Labov 1972
3/27 Discrimination

Lippi-Green Ch 9 & Ch 13; Lindemann 2002
in-class brainstorming on "Chinese-accented" instructor scenario
Language description data due

4/3 Sociolinguistics & Language Teaching Pennycook 2000, Pavlenko 2004, Lindemann 2011
4/10 Language Shift & Language Planning Bell Ch 3; Wardhaugh 2010, Ch 15
Language description projects due
4/17 English as a Lingua Franca; Linguistic Landscape Kachru & Nelson 1996 (pp. 71-80), Jenkins 2009, Trinch & Snajdr in press
4/24   Presentations
Requirements and suggestions for presentations, handouts, and final papers
4/27   Papers due, 11:59 pm

 

 

Readings available on iCollege:

Gumperz, John J. (2001). Contextualization and ideology in intercultural communication. In Aldo DiLuzio, Susanne Günthner, & Franca Orletti (eds), Culture in Communication: Analyses of Intercultural Situations. Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 35-53.

Jenkins, Jennifer (2009). English as a lingua franca: Interpretations and attitudes. World Englishes 28 (2), 200-207.

Kachru, Braj B. & Cecil L. Nelson (1996). World Englishes. In Sandra Lee Mc Kay & Nancy H. Hornberger (eds.), Sociolinguistics and language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 71-102 (pp.71-80 are assigned).

Labov, William (1972). The logic of nonstandard English. Language in the Inner City. Philadelphia , PA : University of Pennsylvania Press, 201-240. Originally published 1969 in Georgetown Monographs in Language and Linguistics 22.

Lindemann, Stephanie (2002). Listening with an attitude: A model of native-speaker comprehension of non-native speakers in the US. Language in Society 31(3), 419-441.

Lindemann, Stephanie (2011). Who's "unintelligible"? The perceiver's role. Issues in Applied Linguistics 18(2), 223-232.

Ostermann, Ana Cristina (2003). Localizing power and solidarity: Pronoun alternation at an all-female police station and a feminist crisis intervention center in Brazil. Language in Society 32, 351-381.

Pavlenko, Aneta (2004). Gender and sexuality in foreign and second language education: Critical and feminist approaches. In Bonny Norton and Kelleen Toohey (eds) Critical pedagogies and language learning. New York , Cambridge University Press, 53-71.

Pennycook, Alastair (2000). The social politics and the cultural politics of language classrooms. In Joan Kelly Hall and William G. Eggington (eds) The Sociopolitics of English Language Teaching. Buffalo, NY : Multilingual Matters, 89-103.

Snell, Julia (2010) From sociolinguistic variation to socially strategic stylisation. Journal of Sociolinguistics 14(5), 630-656.

Tannen, Deborah (1981). New York Jewish conversational style. International Journal of Society and Language 30: 133-149.

Trinch, Shonna & Edward Snajdr (in press). What the signs say: Gentrification and the disappearance of capitalism without distinction in Brooklyn. Journal of Sociolinguistics.

Wardhaugh, Ronald (2010). An introduction to sociolinguistics, 6th edition. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. Chapter 15, 378-412.

 

End-of-term course evaluations
Your constructive assessment of this course plays an indispensable role in shaping education at Georgia State University. Upon completing the course, please take the time to fill out the online course evaluation. Comments and suggestions are especially helpful.

 

The course syllabus provides a general plan for the course; deviations may be necessary.