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Definition of Sociolinguistics

Definition of Sociolinguistics

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Published by Shinta Ari Herdiana

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Published by: Shinta Ari Herdiana on May 17, 2012
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Sociolinguistics, the study of language as it affects and is affected by social relations.Sociolinguistics encompasses a broad range of concerns, includingbilingualism,pidginand creole languages, and other ways that language use is influenced by contact among people of different language communities (e.g., speakers of German, French, Italian, and Romansh inSwitzerland). Sociolinguists also examine different dialects, accents, and levels of diction inlight of social distinctions among people.Sociolinguistics is a term including the aspects of linguistics applied toward theconnections between language and society, and the way we use it in different socialsituations. It ranges from the study of the wide variety of dialects across a given region downto the analysis between the way men and women speak to one another. Sociolinguistics oftenshows us the humorous realities of human speech and how a dialect of a given language canoften describe the age, sex, and social class of the speaker; it codes the social function of alanguage.
Dialect is something greater. A dialect is a version of a language that is special to aparticular region or group. Dialects of the same language are different from each other, butstill understandable to speakers of another dialect of that language. For example, AmericanEnglish and British English are two dialects of English. They have some differences, such asin pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar, but they are still understandable to each other.
is a manner of pronunciationpeculiar to a particular individual, location, ornation. An accent may identify the locality in which its speakers reside (ageographicalorregional accent), thesocio-economic statusof its speakers, theirethnicity,theircasteorsocial class,theirfirst language(when the language in which the accent is heard is not their native language), and so on.
Accents typically differ in quality of voice, pronunciation of vowels and consonants,stress, andprosody.Although grammar, semantics, vocabulary, and other languagecharacteristics often vary concurrently with accent, the word 'accent' refers specifically to thedifferences in pronunciation, whereas the word'dialect'encompasses the broader set of linguistic differences. Often 'accent' is a subset of 'dialect'.
Language Variation
Language variation is one of the main discussion in the study of Sociolinguistics.Sociolinguistics is a branch of linguistics that describes the characteristics of languagevariation and sets the correlation of those characteristics with the characteristics of the socialcommunity.
Language Variation: Focus on Users
is the language variation that is individual in nature (Chaer & Agustina,1995:82). Everyone has his own language variation or his own idiolect. This idiolect
variation is concerning with the “colours” of voice, choice of words, language style,sentence order, etc. The “colours” of voice is the most dominant aspect in language
variation, because we can recognize someone just by listening to voice without seeingthe person.
is something greater. A dialect is a version of a language that is special to aparticular region or group. Dialects of the same language are different from eachother, but still understandable to speakers of another dialect of that language. Forexample, American English and British English are two dialects of English. Theyhave some differences, such as in pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar, but theyare still understandable to each other.
Language Variation: Focus on Uses
 In terms of language variation that are based on its uses, the discussion is focusedon the ways in which speech reflects the contexts in which language is used and notthe characteristics of the speakers (Holmes, 2001:223). The language variation that isconcerning with the uses or functions can be called as style or register.
According to Holmes (2001:246) the term style refers to language variation whichreflects changes in situational factors. She also mentions that styles are often analysed
according to the levels of formality (Holmes, 2001:246). This is in accordance withMartin Joos (1967) in his book The Five Clocks as quoted by Nababan (1986:22) whodivides the style of formality into five levels, frozen, formal, consultative, casual andintimate styles. The description of these styles can be seen in the following:
Frozen style.
It is the most formal style used in formal situations and ceremonies(Nababan, 1986:22). It is called frozen because the pattern has been set up firmlyand can never be changed by anyone. In written form, we can see this style inhistorical documents, ratification, and other formal documents.
Formal style.
It is the style used in formal speech, formal meeting, officecorrespendence, lesson books for school, etc (Chaer & Agustina, 1995:93). Formalstyle is basically similar to the frozen style that is only used in formal situationsand not in informal situations. The example of formal style as quoted by Marjohan(1988:35) from Nababan (1987) is the first paragraph of the opening of the 1945constitution of the Republic of Indonesia that was written in a formal or even in afrozen style,Bahwa sesungguhnya kemerdekaan itu ialah hak segala bangsa danoleh sebab itu maka penjajahan di atas dunia harus dihapuskan
karena tidak sesuai dengan peri kemanusiaan dan peri keadilan…
Consultative style.
This is the style used in ordinary conversation held at school,in meeting or conversation that leads to result and production (Nababan, 1986:22).It can be said that this style is the most operational one.
Casual style.
It is the style used to speak with friends, family or relatives, duringthe leisure time, while exercising, etc (Chaer & Agustina, 1995:93). The casual
style markers in English mentioned in Marjohan’s book (1988:35) are:
1. The absence of an article at the beginning of a sentence, for example:a)
Friend of mine saw it.b)
cold.2. The absence of the subject at the beginning of a sentence, for example:a)
Bought it yesterday?b)
Makes no difference.3. The absence of an auxiliary, for example:a)
Seen John lately?

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