Foundations in Sociolinguistics

9780812210651: Paperback
Release Date: 1st May 1974

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 260

Series Conduct and Communication

University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.

Foundations in Sociolinguistics

An Ethnographic Approach

A highly influential scholar urges that linguistics be studied as part of the entire communicative conduct of social groups and demonstrates the mutual relation between linguistics and other disciplines, such as sociology, social anthropology, and education.

Paperback / £21.99

Sociolinguistics is conceived here as a fundamental critical perspective on the whole of the study of language. The scientific problems within present linguistics, the book contends, combine with social problems of the society in which linguists participate to press linguistics to discover ethnographic foundations. The work of providing such foundations largely remains to be done. Working out the implications of these three principles requires a new mode of description of linguistic features and relationships, a mode which can treat the verbal means of a community as a part of its organization of communicative means.

In Part One, Dell Hymes indicates the place of linguistic inquiry as part of an inquiry into communicable conduct in general. Part Two demonstrates the mutual relation between linguistics and other disciplines that contribute to the common larger field—sociology, social anthropology, education, folklore, and poetics are discussed. In Part Three the author argues that problems within linguistic inquiry suggest social foundations of linguistics deeper than presently assumed, such that social meaning and stylistic function must be taken into account systematically, and social life seen as a source of the organization of linguistic means.


1. Toward ethnographies of communication
2. Studying the interaction of language and social life

3. Why linguistics needs the sociologist
4. Social anthropology, sociolinguistics, and the ethnography of speaking
5. Bilingual education: linguistic vs. sociolinguistic bases
6. The contribution of folklore to sociolinguistic research
7. The contribution of poetics to sociolinguistic research

8. Linguistic theory and functions in speech
9. Syntactic arguments and social roles: Quantifiers, Keys, and Reciprocal vs. Reflexive Relationships
10. The scope of sociolinguistics


"Stimulating and provocative. . . . Highly recommended . . . both as an introduction for beginning students in courses dealing with language and culture and as a useful synthesis of the important theoretical issues for more advanced scholars."—Anthropological Quarterly