Language and Society

Course Leader: Dr Joana Aguiar

Home Institution: Instituto Politécnico de Braganca, Portugal

Course pre-requisites: Basic knowledge in Linguistics

Course Overview
This course explores the connections between language and society.

Language as a social phenomenon may be studied from different perspectives. This course intends to give a glimpse on the applications of linguistics in different areas, such as sociolinguistics, forensic analysis, and online communication.

Learning Outcomes
By the end of this course students should be able to actively discuss in a more informative and critical manner aspects of language use, making reference to the most important studies on sociolinguistic variation and change, computer-mediated discourse, and forensic linguistics.

Course Content

  1. Introduction to Linguistics
  2. Language as a social phenomenon
  3. Language variation and principles of linguistic change and variation
    1. Sociolinguistic variables
      1. Social factors
      2.  Linguistic factors
  4. Computer-mediated communication
    1. Features of netspeak
  5. Forensic Linguistics
    1. Language as evidence

Instructional Method
Classes will be composed of:

  • Review of the pertinent literature on sociolinguistics, computer-mediated discourse and forensic linguistics
  • Task-based learning: individual practical works and group projects based on real data (provided by the lecturer or collected by students).
  • Critical discussion

Required Course Materials
Androutsopoulos, J. (2011). Language change and digital media: A review of conceptions and evidence. In Kristiansen Tore & Nikolas Coupland (Eds.) Standard languages and language standards in a changing Europe (pp. 145-161), Oslo: Novus.

Coulthard, M. (2004). Author Identification, Idiolect and Linguistic Uniqueness. Applied Linguistics, 25(4), 431-447.

Tagliamonte, S. (2012). Variationist Sociolinguistics: Change, Observation, Interpretation. Wiley-Blackwell Publishers.

Turell, T. (2010) The use of textual, grammatical and sociolinguistic evidence in forensic text comparison. The International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law, 17(2), pp. 211-250.


Practical works: 50%

Final assessment: 50%