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Table of content

Introduction 2

Self-evaluation 3

I- Basic concepts 4

II- Introduction to sociolinguistics 9

III- The history of sociolinguistics 11

IV- The relationship between linguistics and other fields 15

V- Methodology and Data collection in Sociolinguistic 17

VI- Linguistic varieties 19

VII- The linguistic situation in Morocco 24


This document is a portfolio about the course of sociolinguistics

delivered by Professor M. Moumin. It is intended to provide coverage of
the class notes of the course with some extra information from reliable
internet sources in order to enrich our background on sociolinguistics.
This portfolio deals with the main concepts of the scientific study in
general and the study of sociolinguistic in particular. Then it will deal with
an introduction to sociolinguistics, the history of sociolinguistics,
linguistics in relation to other fields, language varieties and the linguistic
situation in Morocco.


At the beginning of the course, many new concepts and ideas were
ambiguous and vague in my mind. But later on, I learnt how to
differentiate between diverse concepts and notions in a very clear and
concise way. Studying sociolinguistics is crucial and essential to our
academic curriculum. I learnt how to develop a critical mind, how to
improve my argumentative skills, and how to ask the right questions and
reach the right answers through a scientific, reliable methodology. I learnt
also how theories and concepts have evolved through history to construct
our contemporary knowledge, and also how every scientific theory or
concept is perpetually subject to investigation, criticism and substitution
because there are no final outcomes in science and every theory is
definitely falsifiable.

I- Basic concepts :

1. Definition :
When we define something, we describe its form (composition, color,
substance, structure, shape...) and its function.

2. Concept:
An abstract idea related to a field of science.

3. Term:
A part of language which describes a concept.

4. Science:
A method of describing natural and human phenomenon.

Principles of science

Exhaustiveness: To be scientific, we must investigate, describe, and

explore every aspect of the phenomenon under investigation.
If we leave any aspect, we are no more scientific.

Economy: To use a minimum of time and energy when studying a

phenomenon in order to reach the same results.

Consistency: Using the same tools and the same methods to analyze all
the components of a phenomenon.

Empiricism: Based on experimentation. To be studied scientifically, a

phenomenon should have a tangible and physical form.

From internet

Science is an intellectual activity carried on by humans that is designed to discover

information about the natural world in which humans live and to discover the ways in
which this information can be organized into meaningful patterns. A primary aim of
science is to collect facts (data). An ultimate purpose of science is to discern the order
that exists between and amongst the various facts.

Scientific methodology


-What do we observe?

We observe the form (ex: color, shape, smell...)

-How do we observe?

Using all senses

-Why do we observe?

To guarantee the second step which is Identification.


-What do we identify?

We identify the elements. We specify what is unique to each element.

-How do we identify?
By putting together elements which share maximum of common aspects.

-Why do we identify?

To facilitate the classification step.


-What do we classify?

We classify elements that share maximum of aspects.

-How do we classify?

By putting elements into different classes.

-Why do we classify?

In order to respect and satisfy the principles of science.

Analysis: which involves a description and an explanation of the


5. System:
To call something a system, it should satisfy the following conditions:
a. Elements / parts.
b. Structure: Relations between these elements.
c. Rules: that governs this system.
d. Unity: Every element is important and contributes to functioning of the
whole system.
e. Integrity: Every element is important and we cant do without it.

6. Theory: A theory is a system or a set of concepts used to describe and

explain a phenomenon.

A scientific theory is :
-Falsifiable: not final, it is open to development. Any theory that claims
that it provides the final results is not scientific.
-Publishable: Its final goal is publication. Making the findings public satisfy
the scientific principle of economy.

From the Internet

A scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been

supported with repeated testing. If enough evidence accumulates to support a
hypothesis, it moves to the next stepknown as a theoryin the scientific method and
becomes accepted as a valid explanation of a phenomenon.

When used in non-scientific context, the word theory implies that something is
unproven or speculative. As used in science, however, a theory is an explanation or
model based on observation, experimentation, and reasoning, especially one that has
been tested and confirmed as a general principle helping to explain and predict natural

Any scientific theory must be based on a careful and rational examination of the facts. In
the scientific method, there is a clear distinction between facts, which can be observed
and/or measured, and theories, which are scientists explanations and interpretations of
the facts. Scientists can have various interpretations of the outcomes of experiments and
observations, but the facts, which are the cornerstone of the scientific method, do not

7. Hypothesis: A hypothesis is a specific guess or possibility about what you

expect to happen in the study.

8. Assumption: A belief that is set in advance that something is true, but

that needs to be proven.

9. Approach: A focus on one perspective of the phenomenon.

10. Judgment:

Value judgment: a subjective judgment.

Factual judgment: an objective judgment based on measures and

respects the principles and methodology of science.
Unscientific: when at least one scientific rule is respected.
Non scientific: Not based on any scientific rule.

II Introduction to Sociolinguistics:

What is Language?

A set of sounds that are used by people in order to communicate and express their
feelings and preoccupation.



What is society?

A group of individuals who live together in a certain place at a particular moment

and who share the same values and norms.

What is sociolinguistics?

Sociolinguistics is the scientific study of the relationship between society and


What is the relationship between language and society?

There are four hypotheses for this relationship:

1. Null Hypothesis:
There is no relationship between language and society.
In this case:
It would be possible to have a society without language.
Language would be stable. It doesnt change through time and space.
Language wouldnt include cultural components.
There will be no variation between the dialects of different social
groups. (Old people speak like young people, men like women)
There will be no difference between regional dialects. (Northerners
speak like southerners.)
There will be no difference between ethnic groups. (African American
will speak like Spanish American.)
There will be no stylistic differences. (You speak to your friends the
same way as when you speak to your parents.)

2. Society influences Language:

The social identity (Gender, age, status, profession, education, class)
influences the way a person speaks.
o Men dont speak like women.
o Old people dont speak like young people.
o Different dialects in different regions.

3. Language influences society:

Our language imposes on us a particular way of seeing and understanding the
- For Russians, there are to terms for blue color, one for dark blue and
another for light blue.
- In Arabic we say , but in English we say bicycle
- Also in Arabic we say , but in English we say telephone.
- In Arabic we have but in English we have uncle for both.
- In Tamazight, we have the same term to express both grey and blue colors.

4. Language and society influence each other :

There is an interaction, which means each one influences the other.

II- History of sociolinguistics:

- The Greeks were among the first who studied language in society. They
mentioned in their books the differences between Greek language and
other languages especially of the countries they invaded. They also
described the rules needed to speak Greek and other related dialects. They
needed also to teach their language to other people for political and
economic reasons.

- Arabs also were interested in language. IBN JINNI in his book

indicates the differences between different dialects in different regions
(Sham, Hijaz, Yemen, North, South, East). He mentioned the specificities
of each variety.

Another scholar, ABOU AHMAD ALFARAHIDI, the teacher of SIBAWIH,

created the first Arab dictionary. He explained how he collected data. He
collected data from tribes and regions far from the big cities in order to
collect pure forms of Arabic. In his dictionary, he gives the meaning of the
word and he mentions where exactly he collected it from.

- The middle Ages.

o The great discoveries: Geographers and explorers were active in that
period of time, which increased the interest in studying new
o Scientific revolution:
o Invention of printing which widened the access to knowledge and
researches results.
o Political and economic interest: Invading nations imposed the study
of the language and the culture of other nations.

- After the middle ages:

o The birth of new nations after the fall of the Roman Empire.
o Interest in Identity and linguistic Identity.
o Interest in lexicography and publishing dictionaries.

- In the 19th century, the Paradigm in science was Biology.

o The theory of evolution (origin of species by Charles Darwin).
o Any species is bound to development and evolution through time
and space. Linguists were also interested in the development of
language through time.

Philogenesis: is a method that studies the development of

species over History. We need to have samples from different
points in time in order to trace and describe its evolution.

Ontogenesis: what is lost in time can be recuperated in space.

In this century, a group of German linguists called Neogrammarians

wanted to study German language through time. They considered the
diachronic analysis not possible because data concerning certain periods
were not available. Therefore, they opted for a synchronic analysis

However the data in that time used to be written, for the elite, poets,
writers and politicians. So, they opened the field to dialectology and opted
for the study of the spoken language for many reasons:

_ The written language comes after the spoken one.

_ The spoken language changes constantly.
_ The written language is the language of the elite.

They faced methodological problem: how to write what is spoken? Thus,

there was a need to invent an International Phonetic Alphabet IPA (1879).
The Neogrammarians were considered as a turning point in the study of
language. They drew an ATLAS for pronunciation through space, but they
only considered individual elements of the language.

From The internet

The Neogrammarians (German Junggrammatiker ) were a German
school of linguists , (including Karl Brugmann , Hermann Osthoff , Hermann
Paul, Eduard Sievers, Karl Verner ) originally at the University of Leipzig , in
the last quarter of the 19 th century. The main tool they used in their
account of historical development of languages was the regularity

hypothesis . According to this hypothesis, a diachronic sound change affects
simultaneously all words in which its environment is met, without exception.
Sound change is regular and exceptionless. Verner's law is a famous example
of the Neogrammarian hypothesis, as it resolved an apparent exception to
Grimm's law. The Neogrammarian hypothesis was the first hypothesis of
sound change to attempt to follow the principle of falsifiability according to
scientific method .

20th century:


Fernand De Saussure (1916), who is the founding father of linguistics,

proposed the study of the whole system and its elements. An element has no
value outside the system. For Saussure, Language is a social institution, so
attention should be paid to its function and development bound by the norms
of society. The context gives importance to all elements of language.

In the late 50s, Bloomfield, an American structuralist, stated that language is

part of behavior. It is based on stimulus response, action and reaction.

His student Skinner said that children are born Tabola Raza. This means that
they are born blank and empty. They learn only by imitation, repetition and


In 1957, Chomsky Wrote Syntactic structure in which he defined a theory

very different from structuralism.

Later in 1959, he wrote an article criticizing Skinners idea. He argued that

children are born with a Language Acquisition Device (LAD). They are
cognitively prepared to learn rules and then generate sentences they never
heard before. Chomskys theory was generative. The rules learnt are
competence, and once applied they become performance.Chomskys theory
was a real revolution in linguistics.

In the 1960s, the paradigm in humanities was linguistics. A lot of scientific
fields were interested in linguistics amongst them Anthropologists. Dell
Hymes asserted that a child acquires not only rules of grammar, but also rules
of use that they learn in their own culture in order to be part of society.
Children need communicative competence which consists of linguistic
competence and cultural competence. There are rules of use without which
rules of grammar are useless Dell Hymes. For him, children need in addition
to grammar rules, psychological, social, cultural and attitude rules.

Fishman asserts that the way we speak depends on who you are, where you
are, when you are, with whom you are, what you are saying, and why are you
saying it.
The goal of sociolinguistics is to describe the rules of use in different contexts.
These rules are different from a situation to another.

III- Sociolinguistics in relation to other fields of science :

Sociology: it deals with the social phenomena and norms that govern the rules of

Urban dialectology: studying the differences of dialects ( men vs women, old people
vs young people ...)

Anthropology: is the study of culture, language is considered a means through

which culture moves from one generation to another.

Culture 1 : any and everything that distinguishes a group of people from another.
Culture2 : is the knowledge that allows a member of a community to determine
what is acceptable and what is not.

Ethnography : the study of ethnic group / proffessional groups. That is, studying the
language in certain situations, for example: the language used by craft workers; they
use different types of tools, different types of products and specific vocabulary, this
is called the cultural scene.

Psychology : the study of the human/ animal behavior. Social psychology : is the we
learn, speak and think.

Philosophy : philosophy of language/ dicourse analysis ( Austin 1962 how to do

things with words ).thers something called speech acts ; philosophers say that by
speaking we can change the world e.g promises.

Geography : study dialects geographically, regional dialectology ( the frequency of

different sounds ) how the social dialects are different from one another.

Literature : stylists study the style and the use of language in society within
literature. History/historical linguistics: studies the development of language
through time (young people Vs old people).

Education : people who are interested in teaching also studies sociolinguistics. We

cannot teach language out of culture, so it would be better to know the culture of
your students to avoid many problems.

Politics : language is a symbol of nation, this is why it is the first thing that polititions
think of when they get their independence.

Language policies :

The government who decides the official language of the country.

Every policy should have:

An objective.

A starting point.

An infrastructure.

Have a budget.

Human resources

Local or regional/ national or international/ private or public partner.

Language human right : the right to use your native language at home and outside
whenever you want, but it should not be a source of discrimination. Language in
relation to economics and politics : Morocco is a multilingual country. In the
administrations, we use French and Arabic, so publishing any kind of documents
would cost a lot, because it should be published in both languages.

IV- Methodology and Data collection in Sociolinguistic:
In sociolinguistics we have different subfields. Each subfield has its own

For example, in Regional Dialectology we describe the spatial distribution of

linguistic elements, whereas in Urban Dialectology we investigate the
frequency of the use of variables by everybody.

We decide on dependant variables used by all speakers with different

frequencies. Ex: (9) and (g) in Casablanca
We decide on independent variables (social variables such as education,
status, sex, age, socio-economic situation)

We cant do any linguistic study without data.

Before the Neogrammarians the data was written and restricted to the

The Neogrammarians took one variable and they described the

geographical distribution of this variable. They traced maps of geographical
distribution of one linguistic item (linguistic Atlas). This approach is called:
Item-based approach to data.

Structuralists criticized the Item-based approach. They say that we have to

study items inside the system. Any item has no value outside the system.
They adopted a very extreme approach to data. They say that we need a
big corpus, a maximum of data. ( L. Bloomfield 1933)

Generativists led by Chomsky criticized the structuralist corpus-based

approach by saying that it is Too Much, Too Little.

o Too Much: Data includes a lot of undesirable information and

material in linguistic analysis.
o Too Little: No matter how the corpus is big, it will never include all
aspects of language.

The substitute for the generativists is data based on intuition of
native speakers. If you want to test something, you should ask native

However, we should use a middle-man, a technique used in Anthropology (I

use a person I know and who is trusted by the person I want to ask).

We should also make the person ask emotionally involved by raising subjects
he likes or that touch his emotions, ex: the past, childhood, death .

V- Language varieties:
The term variety of language is used to refer to different manifestations of
Language. It is a set of linguistic items with similar social distribution.

1- Language and Dialect:

What is the difference between a language and a dialect?
At a Diachronic point of view, a language is a variety that has gone under the
process of standardization. Standardization is a process through which a dialect
becomes a Language. There are four steps for standardization:

a- Selection:
A particular variety must have been selected by politicians to be developed
into a standard language.

b- Codification:
It is the job of linguists to state the rules for this language to be used
correctly by adopting a chosen alphabet, a prescriptive grammar and

c- Elaboration:
By raining teachers, building schools, implement laws that encourage the use
of this language in different fields of life
d- Acceptance:
This variety has to be accepted by the population.

At a Synchronic level:
The difference between a language and a dialect can be based on four criteria:

A- Size:
A language is bigger in terms of Form, Use, function and population.
- Form: A language is bigger than a dialect in terms of the number of words,
grammatical structures, expressions, idioms .
- Use: The context where a language is used is more numerous (media,
books, schools,
- Function: A language has more functions (used in schools, media,
administrations) than a dialect (used only in daily conversations).
- Population: The speakers of a language are more numerous.

B- Inclusion:
A language includes a number of dialects.

C- Mutual understanding:
If I speak my dialect and you speak yours, we understand each other. Then we
speak the same language.
However, if A understands B, and B understands C, It doesnt mean
necessarily that A understands C because it is a continuum.

D- Political criteria:
Language is a symbol of national identity.

We differentiate between two languages at the level of:

- Pronunciation
- Morphology
- Lexical items
- Meaning

But if there are different syntactic rules, It is then another language. The syntax is
the heart of language. Ex: asking questions, passivysation

2- Official and national languages:

An official language is stated clearly in the constitution as the nations official
language. It is used in official situations like the parliament discourses and the
kings speeches to the population.
A national language is recognized by the government and spoken by a good
portion of the population. The government implements laws and gives a
budget to elaborate it encourage its use. Ex: Tamazight was a national
language before becoming official in 2001.

3- Major and minor languages:
A major language is spoken by the majority of the population, whereas a
minor language is spoken by a minority of the population.

4- Natural and artificial languages:

A natural language is transmitted implicitly from generation to generation.
An artificial language is created and coined consciously for specific uses and
situations. Ex: ESPERANTO.

5- Living and dead languages:

A Living language has native speakers. It is the native language of a speech
community. It is bound to change because it is in use.
A dead language doesnt have native speakers.

6- Classical and modern languages:

A classical language is the older version of a language.
A modern language is the contemporary version of a language.

7- Standard language and vernacular:

A language that has only an oral form and that didnt go through the process
of standardization is called a Vernacular whereas a standard language has
both written and spoken forms and has gone through the process of
8- Pidgin and Creole:
A Pidgin is a hybrid variety of two already existing languages. Its grammar is
simplified in comparison with the two original languages. It is used to
facilitate business transactions and negotiations.
A Creole is a Pidgin that has become a native language of a particular speech

9- Diaglossia:
Diaglossia is a linguistic situation where two languages or two forms of a
language are used under different conditions in a community. For a situation
to be called Diaglossia, it should satisfy the following criteria:

a. Prestige:
One variety is higher, more prestigious than the other one. The high
variety is more formal and used in administrative, cultural and economic
situations whereas the low variety is used in informal daily life.

b. Use:
The two varieties are functional. It means that if one is used in a situation,
the other one is used in other situations. Ex; MA is exclusively used in
streets and homes/ MSA is used parliament and official speeches.

c. Acquisition:
The high variety is acquired consciously and intentionally; whereas the low
variety is acquired implicitly as a mother tongue.

d. Stability:
One variety is relatively stable, whereas the other is subject to continuous

e. Literary heritage:
The high variety has rich accumulation of written literature.
The low variety is rich in oral heritage (songs, myths, stories.)

f. Standardization:
The high variety is standardized.
The low variety is still a vernacular.

g. Genetic relatedness:
Both varieties share the same origin.

h. Grammar:
The high variety has a complicated grammar whereas the low variety has a
simple grammar. The difference between them is in terms of
o Phonology
o Morphology
o lexicon

however , Fishman (1970) said that if we exclude the criterion of genetic relatedness
the term Diaglossia will be applied to many other linguistic situations:

1. - Bilingualism (It is the case in Morocco and the Arab world)

+ Diaglossia

2. + Bilingualism (Paraguay: Spanish+ Guarani)

+ Diaglossia

3. +Bilingualism ( the two languages are in equal situation. Ex: Canada,

- Diaglossia

4. -Bilingualism ( rare situation)

- Diaglossia

From the internet

Diglossia is the coexistence of two varieties of the same language throughout a

speech community. Often, one form is the literary or prestige dialect, and the
other is a common dialect spoken by most of the population. Such a situation
exists in many speech communities throughout the worlde.g., in Greece, where
Katharevusa, heavily influenced by Classical Greek, is the prestige dialect and
Demotic is the popular spoken language, and in the Arab world, where classical
Arabic (as used in the Qurn) exists alongside the colloquial Arabic of Egypt,
Morocco, and other countries. Sociolinguists may also use the term diglossia to
denote bilingualism, the speaking of two or more languages by the members of
the same community, as, for example, in New York City, where many members of
the Hispanic community speak both Spanish and English, switching from one to
the other according to the social situation or the needs of the moment.

VI- The linguistic situation in Morocco:
How many languages are used in Morocco?

What are the forms of those languages?

What are the functions of those languages and the contexts in which they are used?

What is the settlement history of each of these languages?

In Morocco, there are four linguistic varieties:

- Tamazight
- Moroccan Arabic
- Moroccan Standard Arabic.
- French.

1- Tamazight:
- In the process of standardization.
- It is a spoken and written language.
- It is a living language (native speakers).
- Function: official status in 2001.
- Used in daily communication
- Taught in schools and used in Media (Radio, TV, Websites, films)
- A lot of researches were conducted on Tamazigh by western researchers
especially in late 18 and 19 century.


In Morocco we have Tamazight in medium Atlas Mountains, Tarifit in Rif Mountains,

and tachl7it in the region of Agadir.

Origin and History:

There are three major hypotheses which describe the origin of Amazigh people:

a. From south east Asia :
Many similarities (physiognomy, music..)

b. From south of Yemen:

Astonishing similarities in physionomy, housing, architecture...

c. North Europe: Vikings:

Similarities with Rifi people: white skin and blue eyes.

But there are no scientific arguments for any of those hypotheses.


2- Arabization of Morocco:

Classical Arabic:
How Arabic moved from spoken form to written form?
Three hypotheses:

a. 1st hypothesis:
Moroccan Arabic and other Arabic varieties in the Arab world were dialects of
Classical Arabic. MA is a distortion and a variety of CA. This is the laymen

b. 2nd hypothesis:
There used to be different Arabic dialects. Islam has privileged Hijazi dialect.
Hijazi dialect was privileged even before Islam for religious, economic,
political, and military reasons, but also for literary reasons ().

c. 3rd hypothesis:
It is a hybrid variety, based on what is common to all those varieties, but in
the same time it is not dependant to any one of them.

Moroccan Arabic:
Before the 7th century
Two big nations existed in Morocco, Amazigh and the Jewish.

7th century
The spread of Islam in Morocco. Unfortunately it was rejected because it
came with the sward.

8th century
1st Idriss flew from Abbasi in Sham for political reason. There was fights
between Amazigh tribes. He managed to unify them; therefore, they made
him their prince and married him to an Amazigh woman.

12th and 13th centuries

Two tribes immigrated to Morocco because of drought in Saoudi Arabia.
Banou Hilal and Banou Akil. They were spontaneous and simple people who
came from rural areas and settled in Morocco in the area from Assilah to

15th century
The Arabs and also Jews were kicked out of spain. They came first from Sham
towns to spain towns, and in Morocco also they settled in towns. They were
sophisticated, rich people.

Settlement history explains the diversity in linguistic situation in Morocco. People

came from different regions, in different times, settled in different places, for
different reasons.

Frensh Language

The contact between Morocco and European civilizations dates back to the ancient
times with Phoenicians, Vandals, Byzantines and the Roman Empire. There was a
great interest in Morocco due to its geographical situation.

In 1880, there was the first desire of the French to invade Morocco.
In 1907,
In 1912, the king was forced to sign the treaty of protectorate.
From 1912 to 1930, the military resistance against the French colonizer.
In 1950, the French colonizer started teaching French in lycees and schools to
Moroccan population.
As a counter reaction, Moroccan resistants created scools where only Arabic
is taught.
In 1955, Independence of Morocco.

The presence of French is deeply rooted in Morocco. Most of Moroccan

administrations use both Arabic and French.

Our economy is still related to the French economy.