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The Origin of 'Sociolinguistics'

Author(s): D. H.
Source: Language in Society, Vol. 8, No. 1 (Apr., 1979), p. 141
Published by: Cambridge University Press
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Lang. Soc. 8,


Printed in Great Britain





At a conferenceon sociolinguisticssome years ago, Einar Haugen called attentionto the

earlyuse of the term'sociolinguistics'by Haver Currie in a paper given at a conferencein
I949 and publishedin I952 (cf. BrightI966: xi, n. i; Hymesx964: 425). Readinga
referenceto Currie in a reviewby Jacob Ornstein(I 977) in our journal, Dr. R. R. Mehrotra
of Benares Hindu Universityin Varanasi, India, calls our attentionto an earlieruse. He
pointsout thatthe term'sociolinguistic'was used in a paper, 'Sociolinguisticsin India', by
T. C. Hudson, published in the journal Man in India in I939. In the paper Hudson
discusses language as a social instrument,termsof address, contextas an integralelement
of language, and the languages of tribal peoples, among other topics.
India would thus seem to have prioritywith 'sociolinguistics',just as it had priority
2,500 years ago with the developmentof formallinguisticanalysis. (D.H.)
Bright,W. (I966). Introduction: The dimensionsof sociolinguistics.In W. Bright(ed.),
Sociolinguistics.The Hague: Mouton.
Currie, H. (1952). A projection of sociolinguistics.The relationshipof speech to social
status. SouthernSpeechJournal I8. 28-37.
Hudson, T. C. (1939). Sociolinguisticsin India. Man in India.
Ornstein,J. (I977). Review of H. Currie: Sociolinguisticsand the twoAmericanlinguistic
orthodoxies.LinS 6 (I). 75-8.
COLIN CHERRY,On humancommunication:
A review,a survey,and a criticism.Cambridge
and London: The MIT Press. 3rd ed., 1978. Pp. xv+ 374.
In this third edition there are numerous small correctionsand a new Chapter 8, which
argues that the language of physical science is inadequate fordiscussion of what is essentiallyhuman about human communication(Human communication:feeling,knowing,and
understanding).Otherwisethe authorofthiswell-knowntextfeelsthatit is neitherpossible
nor appropriateto tryto bringit up to date. Its purpose,thatof makinga case forthe study
of human communicationas an academic subject, still stands. The book merelyaims to
introducethe reader to a diversityof intereststhat is likelyto remain diverse for a long
The firstedition (I957) was dedicated 'To my dog, Pym'; the second (I966) 'To all
those human beingswho have enquired so kindlyaftermydog Pym'. The thirdis dedicated
'To the memoryof my dog Pym'. (D.H.)
linguisticresearch.(Garland ReferenceLibraryof the Humanities, Vol. xi 9.) New York

and London: Garland Publishing Inc., 1978. PP. xviii+425.

When Bernard Bloch taught 'Morphology' at the Linguistic Institute held at Indiana
Universityin the summer of 1952, he made available to his students,such as myself,a
bibliographyof descriptivelinguistics. Mimeographed, it was about the size of a thick
termpaper. It seemed quite comprehensive,certainlyso far as English-languagesources
were concerned.A few years later it did not seem an unreasonable projectto complement
and update it, and an extensiveset of stencilson descriptiveand what we would now call
sociolinguistictopics perhaps still resides in the Department of Linguistics at Harvard,
expropriatedforthe departmentby the thenchairman,JoshuaWhatmough,on thegrounds


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