Naomi Nagy

Linguistics at U of T

LIN 251: Intro to Sociolinguistics

Course description

How does linguistic variation construct identity?

You will be introduced to recent sociolinguistic research on language contact, multilingualism, code-switching, expressions of ethnic solidarity and regional identity, sex and gender differentiation, dialect geography, sociophonetics, perceptual dialectology, diffusion of norms in mobile populations, documentation of variation in lesser studied languages, and changes across the life-span.

Goals for the course

  • Understand the shape of sociolinguistic research today: its goals, concepts and terminology.
  • Design and conduct sociolinguistic research in both macro- and micro-sociolinguistic areas, following the social science paradigm of hypothesis development and testing through empirical data.
  • Take opportunities to reflect on and discuss your own sociolinguistic situation – the profusion of languages and voices which are part of your life.
  • Consider the universality of sociolinguistic principles and the extent to which they apply cross-linguistically, by considering research from multiple languages and communities.
  • Read, consider and discuss how language affects and constitutes society, in particular where that produces inequity.
  • Learn to observe, question, and integrate information from different sources (multiple readings, lecture, your own experiences) to test generalizations about how language and society connect.
  • Develop writing styles, empirical techniques and skills specialized to sociolinguistic research norms.
adapted from the course textbook (Bell 2014:15)

This course within the Linguistics curriculum

This is one of the five required "breadth" courses for LIN majors and specialists. These are designed to provide (second-year) students with semester-long introductions to widely-studied areas of linguistics. In this course, you will learn about sociolinguistics through a range of approaches, hypotheses, languages and communities. More advanced courses will specialize in only some of these.

LIN 251 is the first in a series of sociolinguistics courses.
It's the prereq for LIN351: Sociolinguistic Patterns, which provides an in-depth course about data collection and analysis methods and deepens your skill set from LIN 251.
, in turn, prepares your for LIN 451: Urban Dialectology and LIN 456: Language Variation and Change: Theory and Analysis.
LIN251 also prepares you for LIN355: Language and Gender.

As a "TBB" ("Thought, Belief and Behaviour") course, LIN 251 provides training in analysis methods, as well as reading and writing specialized for the social sciences.

Syllabus & assignments for the current semester | Course requirements


Updated 30 August 2022

email: naomi dot nagy at utoronto dot ca | Return to my home page