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LCD 144: Language and Social Diversity

Robert Vago and Michael Newman

(Submission #25)

Course Description

This is a research-based course involving sociolinguistics with an international focus, designed for undergraduates with no background in the field. Students explore sociolinguistic research through reading representative but accessible studies and through their own carefully structured research projects. Typical questions addressed in the studies involve the association of different languages, dialects, and speech styles with ways social structures and norms including:

• how specific languages or dialects are used preferentially by individuals belonging to different social categories such as genders, social classes, ethnic or racial groups.

• how these different groups preferentially observe different norms of oral and written language behaviors.

• why certain languages or varieties of languages become dominant or lose their privileged position and why they can even disappear.

• why and how languages or dialects evolve.

• issues specific to multilingual societies Reading materials include textbook chapters and original research articles. Students see how knowledge presented in textbooks originates in research. Students gain knowledge about how research works by written analyses of the articles. The writing involves original research on a sociolinguistic phenomenon. Students will either formulate research questions (RQs) individually, in groups, or as a class or will be assigned a project by the professor. They will learn how to collect appropriate data to meet standards of validity and reliability, and perform a basic analysis of that data. They will end by reporting their findings and conclusions to the class. A classic type of sociolinguistic project that can be used in the course involves correlating the use of linguistic (dependent) variable(s) involving pronunciation, morphology, syntax, or vocabulary with social (independent) variables. Students formulate research questions by deciding on which social variables (i.e., race, age, gender, class, geographic roots, and national identity) they wish to explore. They then investigate their questions, by collecting, analyzing and interpreting data as they relate to their RQ(s), and write up their results. Students are carefully guided through each step of this process until their project's completion.


Area of Knowledge and Inquiry: Analyzing Social Structures (SS)
Context of Experience: World Cultures (WC)
Extended Requirement: Not Applicable

Additional Course information

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: none
Existing Course: New
Existing Course Number: 
Course Anticipated to be offered: Every Semester
Other (if specified): 
Number of Sections: 1
Number of Seats: 30


[Justification, Materials, Assessment, Administration (PDF)]   [Syllabus/Syllabi (PDF)]  

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