You are on page 1of 4


MATRIC: P79902


First Quiz Assignment (20%)

Imagine you are a lecturer/teacher. Your Quiz Assignment is to write clear explanations for your
students to help them understand the following:

i. The difference between linguistics and sociolinguistics (10 marks)

ii. The difference between micro and macro-sociolinguistics (10 marks)

Each complete answer for i) and ii) should be a maximum of one page long. The assignment
should not be longer than two pages (with the listing of references).

Please ensure that each answer lists 3 reputable references with relevant page numbers on which
answer is based.

You will base the content of this answer on the references but they should be explained in your
own words.

Please use one concrete relevant example to support each definition to help students understand
the concepts.

Please submit soft copies of assignments on the 29th Sept (by email) and hard copy as well.
Question (i)

According to the oxford dictionary, linguistics can be defined as the scientific study of
language and its structure. It is a science in the sense that it scientifically studies the rules,
systems and principles of the human language. This includes the study of morphology, syntax,
phonetics, and semantics. Specific branches of linguistics include sociolinguistics, dialectology,
psycholinguistics, computational linguistics, historical-comparative linguistics, and applied
linguistics. The study of linguistics is the study of how to answer the question relating to the
study of language. These questions include for example how language is structured, how is it
acquired, how is it used in the production and comprehension of messages, how does it change
over time? What properties do all human languages have in common? How do languages differ,
and to what extent are the differences systematic? How do children acquire such complete
knowledge of a language in such a short time? What are the ways in which languages can change
over time, and are there limitations to how languages change? What is the nature of the cognitive
processes that come into play when we produce and understand language? These are some of the
questions that defined linguistics.

Sociolinguistics on the other hand according to Janet Holmes (2008) can be defined as
the relationship between language and the context in which it is used. It is the descriptive study
of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectations, and context
on the way language is used and the effects of language use on society. The study of
sociolinguistics is the study on how to answer the questions of the relationship between language
and society for example sociolinguists are interested in explaining why we speak differently in
different social contexts and identifying the social functions of the language and the ways it is
used to convey social meaning. Through examining the way people use language in different
social contexts provides a wealth of information about the way language works as well as about
the social relationships in a community and the way people signal aspects of their social identity
through their language.

In short, linguistics put the emphasis on language structure while sociolinguistics put the
emphasis is on the use of language in the social context.
Question (ii)

According to Payne & Weber (2007) micro sociolinguistics deals with issues of
communication between individuals or within small groups. It focuses on how social structure
influences the way people talk and how language varieties and patterns of use correlate with
social attributes. Micro sociolinguistics explores the way in which how social structures
influences the way people talk and how language varieties and patterns of use correlate with
social attributes such as class, gender and age. In a simplistic term, it explores the ways in which
society influences a speaker's idiolect which means the specific language of a person and how
people communicate with one another in line with different social variables or factors. An
example would be the variance in Manglish and Singlish.

Macro sociolinguistics according to Payne & Weber (2007) deals with issues that affect
large bodies such as nations, where there is a need to make linguistic choices within such
contexts such as education, law and bureaucracy. Macro sociolinguistics focuses more on society
as a whole, in relation to language. The study in the field of macro sociolinguistics examine the
relevance and concerns of various languages whether national, international or ethnic languages
from the perspective of varying members of society. Examples of questions asked with regard to
macro sociolinguistics includes what do roles and functions of languages mean to members of
society, how and when do they use these languages? How are decisions made on the selection of
languages for their national roles? What is the impact of decisions made on the status of
dominant languages on minority languages that may exist in society? How do economic, political
and socio-cultural factors impact on decisions made on language policy and language planning?

In short, micro sociolinguistics put the emphasis on language while macro

sociolinguistics put the emphasis on society.

Question (i)

Bas Aarts, April McMahon. 2008. The Handbook of English Linguistics. Blackwell Publishing
Ltd. Pg 1-2.

Definition of linguistics. Oxford Online Dictionary. Accessed on 26 September 2016.

Janet Holmes. 2008. An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. Pearson Education Limited. Third

Edition. Pg 1-2.

Question (ii)

Mark Aronoff, Janie Rees-Miller. 2003. The Handbook of Linguistics. Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Pg 563-581

Saran Kaur Gill. 2014. Language Policy Challenges in Multi-Ethnic Malaysia. Multilingual
Education. Volume 8. Pg 8.

Thomas Edward Payne, David Weber. 2007. Perspectives on Grammar Writing. John Benjamins
Publishing. Pg 15.