Sociology of language

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Sociology of language is the study of the effect of language on society. It is closely related to the field of sociolinguistics, which focuses on the effect of society on language. One of its longest and most prolific proponents was Joshua Fishman, who among other major contributions, was founding editor the International Journal of the Sociology of Language. Sociology of language studies society in relation to language whereas Sociolinguistics studies language in relation to society. For the former, society is the object of study, whereas, for the latter, language is the object of study. The basic idea is that language reflects, amongst several other things, attitudes that speakers want to exchange or that just get reflected through language use. These attitudes of the speakers is the sociologist's information.

A sociology of language would seek to understand the way that social dynamics are affected by individual and group language use. It would have to do with who is 'authorized' to use what language, with whom and under what conditions. It would have to do with how an individual or group identity is established by the language that they have available for them to use. It would seek to understand individual expression, one's (libidinal) investment in the linguistic tools that one has access to in order to bring oneself to other people.

See also[edit]


  • Fishman, Joshua A. (1972). The sociology of language: An interdisciplinary social science approach to language in society. Newbury House Publishers. ISBN 978-0-912066-16-5.
  • Spolsky, Bernard and Francis M. Hult eds. (2007) The Handbook of Educational Linguistics. [1] ISBN 9781405154109.
  • International Journal of the Sociology of Language [2]. Mouton de Gruyter. Editor: Joshua A. Fishman. ISSN (Print) 0165-2516.