Saturday, March 7, 2009
What is Social about Sociolinguistics?
Upon reading the introduction in Wardhaugh (2006) I find myself aligned with the author, Gumperz (1971) Chambers, and Coulmas (1997, as cited in Wardhaugh, 2006). We ought to be looking at the outcomes of how the social environment interacts with linguistic structure. I think that Coulmas really hit on a point when he/she stated the division of macro and micro was somewhat contrived. I would like to add to that and say that I believe looking at language without context is like finding fools gold and believing it is valuable. Without having a base to judge from, one can be easily misled. The relationship between language and social aspects is one that needs attention as a whole... Language seems to affect (or not affect in some cases) the way we act (Whorf Hypothesis), and vice-versa... Studying both linguistics and sociology separately, then combining them may miss the plot (according to Hymes, 1974 as cited in Wardhaugh 2006). I understand how Chomsky would like to separate linguistic studies from any other social factor, because it just makes things simpler and easier to make hypotheses about. That is a very scientific thing to do. But language is a communication tool, used within social situations, it is impossible to separate it from other affecting variables. Understanding aspects in isolation may help in contributing to the knowledge base, but we must be careful not to let those understandings distort our understanding of what really exists. Just as in a magicians slight of hand, sometimes the parts do not always equal the whole.