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What is sociolinguistic

Sociolinguistics is a brunch of applied linguistics which studies of the effect of any and all
aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectation, and the way language is used. It
studied how lects differ between groups separated by certain social variables, e.g., ethnicity,
religion, status, gender, level of education, age etc. And how creation and adherence to these
rules is used to categorize individuals in social class or socio-economic classes.

Sociolinguistics is the effect of the society on the language, while the latters focus is on the
languages effect on the society. It also study grammar, phonetics, vocabulary, and other
aspects of this sociolect much as dialectologists would study the same for a regional dialect.

Sociolinguistics is concerned with investigating the relationship between language and society
with the goal of a better understanding of the structure of language, and how language
functions in communication Ronald Wardaugh, 1986

Sociology vs Sociolinguistics
Some investigators have found it appropriate to try to introduce a distinction between
sociolinguistics or micro-sociolinguistics and the sociology of language or macro-sociolinguistics.
In this distinction, sociolinguistics is concerned with investigating the relationships between
language and society with the goal being a better understanding of the structure of language
and of how languages function in communication; the equivalent goal in the sociology of
language is trying to discover how social structure can be better understood through the study
of language, e.g., how certain linguistic features serve to characterize particular social
arrangements. Hudson (1996, p. 4) has described the difference as follows: sociolinguistics is
the study of language in relation to society, whereas the sociology of language is the study of
society in relation to language. In other words, in sociolinguistics we study language and
society in order to find out as much as we can about what kind of thing language is, and in the
sociology of language we reverse the direction of our interest. Using the alternative terms given
above, Coulmas (1997, p. 2) says that micro-sociolingustics investigates how social structure
influences the way people talk and how language varieties and patterns of use correlate with
social attributes such as class, sex, and age. Macro-sociolinguistics, on the other hand, studies
what societies do with their languages, that is, attitudes and attachments that account for the
functional distribution of speech forms in society, language shift, maintenance, and
replacement, the delimitation and interaction of speech communities.
Issue of dialects & standard language

A dialect is the variety of a language that a group of people speak, separated by either
geography, class, or ethnicity. Dialect is most often applied to the different speech patterns of
people from different regions.

The real basis for much of sociolinguistics is that the differences in language among members of
a speech community or between different regions speaking different varieties of the same
language are often meaningful for society. Not everyone who speaks a given language speaks it
in the same way. Actually, every individual uses language in their own unique way. This is
evident from an analysis of writers' vocabulary usage, for example. It is possible to prove the
authorship of an anonymous work based on statistical studies of word usage. An individual's
particular way of speaking is called an idiolect. Language variants spoken by entire groups of
people are referred to as dialects. Some linguists use the term lect to describe any variant of a
language (family lect, village lect, etc.)
In sociolinguistics dialect is the collection of phonetic, phonological, syntactic, morphological
and semantic attributes that make one group of speakers noticeably different from another
group of speakers of the same language (Lewandowski, 2010). Dialectologists study dialect, but
variationist sociolinguists are very much interested in looking at social variation within dialects
and examine how variation is rule governed.

The Dialect Continuum and the Dilemma

If we have ten dialects (1-10) in a row 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10, each dialect is highly similar
to its immediately adjacent neighbors; conversely, when we move farther away from each type
the similarities become fewer and fewer. That is, dialect one 1 is very similar to 2, less similar to
3, even less similar to 4, and by the time we get to 8, 9 or 10, 1 is no longer mutually intelligible
with these. By the criterion of mutual intelligibility, we can thus say that dialect 1 and 10 belong
to different languages. But if we take dialect 5, which may be mutually intelligible with both 1
and 10, which language does 5 belong to?

Just as there is variation among groups of speakers of a language, there is variation from
speaker to speaker. No two speakers of a language speak identically. Each speaks her or his
own particular variety of that language. Hence, an idiolect is the variety of language spoken by
each individual speaker of the language. It is, therefore, one persons language.
Social Dialect/Sociolect
According to Lewandowski (2010), the term sociolect is often used interchangeably with social
dialect (the latter form seems to be more commonly used and preferred). In sociolinguistics,
social dialect is a variety of speech associated with a particular social class or occupational
group within a society. It is concisely defined as a variety or lect which is thought of as being
related to its speakers social background rather geographical background (Trudgill, 2003;
Grabias, 2001 in Lewandowski, 2010). In other words, it is the language spoken by a particular
social group, class or subculture, whose determinants include such parameters as: gender, age,
occupation, and possibly a few others for the purposes of secrecy, professionalism,
expressiveness, etc.

Regional dialects
This is linguistic differentiation based upon on membership in a longstanding geographically
isolated or separate group. In other words, a group of people are more or less isolated or are
prevented from freely mingling with nearby populations due to mountains, rivers, forests, etc.,
and then those populations will develop unique linguistic characteristics which will eventually
become distinguishing elements of their regional dialects. . Its a natural deviation from the
Standard Dialect through a long process of language evolution, rather than a social construction
used to more effectively communicate between those of different socio-economic status within
a given area sharing the same standard language.

There are some common misperceptions about dialects. These common misperceptions are:
dialect is substandard, dialect is incorrect and dialect is slang. However the sociolinguistics fact
is that everybody speaks a dialect. Sometimes people get confused to differentiate language
from dialects. There is linguistic criterion to differentiate language from dialect. Most linguists
suggested that dialect is mutually intelligible while language is not. For instance, American
English, British and Australian English are mutually intelligible as they are the dialects of the
same language- English.
Regional dialects include :
1. International varieties
2. Intra-national or intra-continental varieties
3. Cross-continental variation: dialect chains
Pidgin and creole
Pidgin and creole are emerged languages in need of communication among people who dont
have single language to use. A pidgin is a language with no native speakers: it is no ones first
language but is a contact language. That is, it is the product of a multilingual situation in which
those who wish to communicate must find or improvise a simple language system that will
enable them to do so. Pidgin forms out of words borrowed from both the original languages. It
has limited vocabulary and simple sentence structure. Pidgin language is not used as native
language by any one as native language. It is used only as means of communication for
conducting business between people speaking different native languages.
An example of pidgin English would be the hybrid dialect spoken in New Zealand or Australia,
crossing English expressions with local aboriginal ones.
In contrast to a pidgin, a creole is often defined as a pidgin that has become the first
language of a new generation of speakers. As Aitchison (1994, p. 3177) says, creoles arise when
pidgins become mother tongues. A creole, therefore, is a normal language in almost every
sense. Holmes (1992, p. 95) says that A creole is a pidgin which has expanded in structure and
vocabulary to express the range of meanings and serve the range of functions required of a first
language. It is simpler to define a creole, any pidgin that become stable and learn by children
as their mother tongue. There are two essential things here stability and learning by children
because these are the bedrock of it. The definitions of the two languages have revealed to us
that they have many things in common as well as differences which give room to people to
start thinking and arguing of sameness and differences between pidgin and creole.
Most Creoles are fairly similar. They are usually divided into English and French creoles. The
French ones are spoken mostly in the Caribbean and some parts of west Africa. The English
ones are spoken in some African countries that used to be under British rule and assimilated
English words into their local languages (like Sierra Leone).
Structure of Pidgin:
- No strict word order
- Single set of pronouns
- No complete sentences
- No determiner
- No grammatical gender
- No inflectional morphology
- A minimum of elements from the language in contact
Pidginization and creolization:
Whatever their origins, it is generally acknowledged that a pidgin is almost always involved in
the earliest stage of a creole. The pidgin comes about from the need to communicate,
particularly when those who need to communicate speak a variety of languages and the
speakers of the target language are superior in some sense and perhaps transient too. Thus,
pidginization seems to have happened and seems still to happen repeatedly, for it is one of
the basic means by which linguistic contact is made among speakers of different languages who
find themselves in an asymmetrical social relationship, i.e., one in which there is a serious
imbalance of power. The fact that is especially interesting is how similar the results are from
place to place and from time to time.
Not every pidgin eventually becomes a creole, i.e., undergoes the process of creolization. In
fact, very few do. Most pidgins are lingua francas, existing to meet temporary local needs. They
are spoken by people who use another language or other languages to serve most of their
needs and the needs of their children. If a pidgin is no longer needed, it dies out. It may also be
the case that the pidgin in a particular area must constantly be reinvented; there is no reason
to believe, for example, that either Cameroonian Pidgin English or Hawaiian Pidgin English have
had uninterrupted histories.

Creolization occurs only when a pidgin for some reason becomes the variety of language that
children must use in situations in which use of a full language is effectively denied them. A
creole is the native language of some of its speakers. We can see how this must have happened
in Haiti when French was effectively denied to the masses and the African languages brought by
the slaves fell into disuse. We can also see how, while many of the guest workers in Germany
developed pidginized varieties of German to communicate when necessary with one another,
their children did not creolize these varieties but, with varying success, acquired Standard
German, since they had to go to school and be educated in German. A full language was
available to them so they had no need to creolize Gastarbeiter Deutsch.
The example of Tok Pisin is useful in considering how a pidgin expands and develops into a
creole. It was not until the 1960s that the pidgin was nativized, i.e., children began to acquire it
as a first language, and, therefore, becoming for them a creole (while remaining an extended
pidgin for previous generations). Mhlhusler (1982) has noted that in Tok Pisin grammatical
categories such as time and number have become compulsory, a word-formation component
has been developed, devices for structuring discourse are now present, and there are
opportunities for stylistic differentiation (p. 449). So far as functions are concerned, Tok Pisin
has become symbolic of a new culture; it is now used in many entirely new domains, e.g.,
government, religion, agriculture, and aviation; it is employed in a variety of media; and it is
supplanting the vernaculars and even English in many areas (pp. 4489). In ways such as these,
the original pidgin is quickly developing into a fully-fledged language, which we call a creole
only because we know its origin. This last point is important: it is only because we know the
origins of creoles that we know they are creoles. Hall (1966, pp. 1223) has observed that:
All the evidence available so far indicates that the type of linguistic change and the mechanisms
involved sound-change, analogy, borrowing of various kinds are the same for pidgins and
creoles as they are for all other languages. The only difference lies in the rate of change far
faster for a pidgin (because of the drastic reduction in structure and lexicon) than for most
languages. When a pidgin has become nativized, the history of the resultant creole is, in
essence, similar to that of any other language. Hence, whereas a pidgin is identifiable at any
given time by both linguistic and social criteria, a creole is identifiable only by historical criteria
that is, if we know that it has arisen out of a pidgin. There are no structural criteria which, in
themselves, will identify a creole as such, in the absence of historical evidence.
Hall adds that the kinds of changes we associate with creolization normally take thousands of
years in languages for which we have good historical data.
Recent intensive study of pidgins and creoles has revealed how quickly such languages can and
do change. Pidginization can occur almost overnight. Relexification also seems to be a rapid
process. Creolization can take as little as two generations. The particular combination of
language and social contact that gives rise to pidgins and creoles seems also to have occurred
frequently in the history of the human species.

Process of Pre-Pidgin to Post-Creolization

1. Abstrate or abstrating situation Language in contact that have equal prestige
2. Superstrate or superstrating situation Language of a dominant group
3. Lexifier Language The input language that provided most of the basic vocabulary or lexicon.
4. Substrate (vice versa of superstrate)
Language Contact & Outcome-
When two or more groups who do not speak the same language come into contact, their needs
to communicate to one another may lead to a pre-pidgin situation, in which one language,
which is more dominant, becomes the source language. Pre-pidgin occurs before focusing leads
to the achievement of stability and the development of shared norms, and where the
pidginized forms are still relatively diffuse.
In a further development, Pidginization may take place, especially when adults and post-
adolescents learn a new language. Pidginization consists of three related but distinct processes:
reduction, admixture, and simplification.
Pidginization process:

1. Reduction refers to the fact that there is a simply less of a language as compared to the form
in which it is spoken by native speakers: the vocabulary is smaller, there are fewer syntactic
structures, and so on.
2. Admixture refers to the interference the transfer of features of pronunciation and
grammatical and semantic structure from the native language to the new language.
3. Simplification refers to the regularization of irregularities, loss of redundancy, and an
increase in analytic structures and transparent forms.
In some cases, pidginization may lead to a pidgin, e.g. in the absence of native speakers of the
original language, the pidginized forms become important as a lingua franca and acquire
stability with widely shared norms of usage.
A pidgin is a stable language, without native speakers, which is the outcome of pidginization
processes of a source language, and where intelligibility with the source language is no longer
Depidginization: In some circumstances, a pidgin may become the most important language,
and will therefore be subject to expansion, so that it can be used in an increasingly wide range
of functions.

Depidginization takes place if a pidgin comes into renewed or closer contact with its original
source language.
In this case, any expansion which occurs is contact-induced and leads in the direction of the
source language.
Creolization: There are varieties of language in the world which look like post-creoles but which
actually are not. Such languages can be called creoloids, and the process which leads to their
formation is called creolization. Creoloids have no pidgin-creole history, i.e. they have not
experienced a history of reduction followed or repaired by expansion. A good example of a
creoloid is Afrikaans, which is clearly a creoloid relative to Dutch.


Diglossia a situation in which two languages (or two varieties of the same language) are used
under different conditions within a community, often by the same speakers. A diglossic
situation exists in a society when it has two distinct codes which show clear functional
separation; that is, one code is employed in one set of circumstances and the other in an
entirely different set. Ferguson (1959, p. 336) has defined diglossia as follows:
Diglossia is a relatively stable language situation in which, in addition to the primary dialects of
the language (which may include a standard or regional standards), there is a very divergent,
highly codified (often grammatically more complex) superposed variety, the vehicle of a large
and respected body of written literature, either of an earlier period or in another speech
community, which is learned largely by formal education and is used for most written and
formal spoken purposes but is not used by any sector of the community for ordinary

A key defining characteristic of diglossia is that the two varieties are kept quite apart in their
functions. One is used in one set of circumstances and the other in an entirely different set.
In the classic diglossic situation, two varieties of a language, such as standard French and
Haitian creole French, exist alongside each other in a single society. Each variety has its own
fixed functionsone a 'high,' prestigious variety, and one a 'low,' or colloquial, one. Using the
wrong variety in the wrong situation would be socially inappropriate, almost on the level of
delivering the BBC's nightly news in broad Scots.
A very significant aspect of diglossia is the different patterns of language acquisition associated
with the High [H] and Low [L] dialects. Most reasonably well-educated people in diglossic
communities can recite the rules of H grammar, but not the rules for L. On the other hand, they
unconsciously apply the grammatical rules of L in their normal speech with near perfection,
whereas the corresponding ability in H is limited. In many diglossic communities, if speakers are
asked, they will tell you L has no grammar, and that L speech is the result of the failure to follow
the rules of H grammar.
Children learn the low variety as a native language; in diglossic cultures, it is the language of
home, the family, the streets and marketplaces, friendship, and solidarity. By contrast, the high
variety is spoken by few or none as a first language. It must be taught in school. The high variety
is used for public speaking, formal lectures and higher education, television broadcasts,
sermons, liturgies, and writing. (Often the low variety has no written form.)


Bilingualism is the ability of an individual or the members of a community to use two languages
effectively. Sometimes Bilingualism is contrasted with Multilingualism. The former one is used
to refer to 2 languages as 'bi-' means two, while the latter is used to refer to more than two
languages. Another distinction which is granted to these two terms is that Bilingualism refers to
individual phenomenon of speaking more than one languages, while Multilingualism is used for
societal Bilingualism i.e. the situation in which whole societies are Bilingual examples are
Pakistan, India and Canada etc. More recently, however, the term Multilingualism is being used
less frequently as compared to Bilingualism which is now used to cover all situations in which
more than one languages are being spoken whether that situation is at individual level or at
society level.
Bilinguals were classified according to the distinction between the degree of fluency and
competence in the languages spoken (the bilingual L2 language learner distinction), by age,
context, manner of acquisition of the languages, and as w based on the hypothesized
processing mechanisms or hypothesized language representation; which include: (a) the
early/late, (b) simultaneous/successive, (c) formal/informal, (d) acquired/learnt (e) the
additive/subtractive, (f) compound/coordinate/subordinate bilinguals.
(a) Early bilingualism is defined as the acquisition of more than one language in the pre-
adolescent phase of life (Baetens Beardsmore, 1986: 28). Late bilingualism has been defined as
the acquisition of one language before and the other language after the age of 8 years. Early
and late bilinguals are distinguished based on their attainment of linguistic competence.
Simultaneous early bilingualism (when a child learns two languages at the same time, from
birth) and successive early bilingualism (when a child who has already partially acquired a L1
(first language) and then learns a L2 (second language) early in childhood) are the two types of
early bilingualism.
Late bilingualism refers to the bilinguals who have learned their second language (L2) after the
critical period, especially when L2 is learned in adulthood or adolescence. Late bilingualism in
fact is a successive bilingualism which occurs after the acquisition of L1.

(b) Balanced and Dominant Bilinguals: The distinction between balanced and dominant
(or unbalanced) bilinguals (Peal and Lambert, 1962) is based on the relationship between the
fluency and proficiencies of the respective languages which bilinguals master. Those who
acquire similar degrees of proficiency and mastery in both languages are defined as balanced
bilinguals, while on the contrary, dominant (or unbalanced) bilinguals are those individuals
whom their proficiency in one language is higher than that in the other language(s).

The person who can speak more than one languages is referred to as a Bilingual or Multilingual.
Bilinguals have different kinds. The most traditional kinds were given by Weinreich (1963). A
brief introduction of each kind is provided below:

Co-ordinate Bilinguals are those people who have learnt both languages in different
environments. The languages would most probably be used for different functions. If a
person learns Urdu in Pakistan and English from the Britain, then he will be called a Co-
ordinate Bilingual. Such people have separate systems for each language in their minds.
So the words and concepts of each language will be kept in the mind separately.
Compound Bilinguals are those people who have learnt both languages from the same
environment. The languages would not have separate system in the mind, but the they
will have one system. The concepts would be kept in one box in their minds, while the
words will be different for both languages. We can see Urdu and Punjabi as an example.
Both are learnt in the same environment, and thus it can be said that we, the Punjabi
speakers of Urdu, are Compound Bilinguals i.e. we have same system of concepts in our
minds but the only thing which changes is the words or vocabulary items of two
separate languages.
Subordinate Bilinguals are those people who have learnt a second language and cannot
understand it without the help of their first language. Such people will translate the
words of second language in their mother tongue, then they would be able to
understand them. Thus we can say that the concepts in mind will remain in one system
i.e. the system of mother tongue, but an additional language is attached to that system
through mother tongue.
Now a days only first two kinds i.e. Coordinate and Compound are endorsed by the researchers
and experts in the field, while the third one is dropped.
There are still several other classifications of bilinguals which are dependent on variables such
as cultural identity and language usage. Besides these types of individual variables, bilinguals
can be classified depending on various social variables. Concentrating on the social status of
language, Fishman (1977) states that depending on the social status of language, bilinguals can
be classified into folk and elite bilinguals. Where folk bilinguals are often language minority
community whose own language does not have a high status in the predominant language
society in which they dwell. In contrast to folk bilinguals, elite bilinguals are those who speak a
dominant language in a given society and also those who can speak another language which
provides them additional value and benefit within the society.


Multilingualism is the ability to use several languages (not perfectly well), assuming a mutual
interaction of languages in the mind of the user, as well as the bulk of linguistic and cultural
experience of the user which add to his/her communicative competence. Richard 1<<<
explains multilingualism more by stating that it is the use of two or more languages, either by
an individual speaker or by a community of speakers.

Language shift and maintenance

Broadly speaking when languages contact many linguistic situations occurs. From these,
language maintenance and shift are common linguistics situations. Language maintenance and
shift are language situations which are usually inseparable. These situations also related with
language choice, endanger, death and extinction and revival. The language choice of certain
speech community members to reflect their cultural lead them add up to shift maintenance in
the community.
Language shift:
Language shift Language shift is language transfer or language replacement where by a speech
community of a language shifts to speaking another language. Its happens when the language
of the wider society (majority) displaces the minority mother tongue language over time in
migrant communities or in communities under military occupation. Therefore when language
shift occurs, it shifts most of the time towards the language of the dominant group, and the
result could be the eradication of the local language.
The term language shift refers to a process in which the speakers of one language begin to use a
second language for more and more function until they eventually use only
the second language, even in personal and intimate context. Language shift become total when
the second language become a symbol of the socio-cultural identity of the speakers. (Webb and
Edward, 2000, 13)

Holmes (1992) presents two forms of language shifts. One shift will be that of indigenous
societies abandoning their language altogether in favor of the dominant groups language. A
case in point is the Maori in New Zealand and some North American Indian tribes. These
societies have adopted the language of the colonizers for the reasons given above. Language
shift can be voluntary or involuntary. But the trend is that it begins involuntarily when a
language is imposed on the dominated group and then it becomes monolingual as a result their
own language dies out. In illustrating the Maori case, Holmes points out that the indigenous
people were swamped by English, the language of the dominant group. The result of colonial
and economic control was not diglossia with varying degrees of bilingualism as found in many
African, Asian and South American countries, but the complete eradication of the many
indigenous languages. Over time the communities shifted to the colonizer's English, and their
own language died out.
Language shift in different communities.

o Migrant minorities. People usually switch rapidly from phrase to phrase for instance.
Reactions to code-switching styles are negative in many communities, despite the fact that
proficiency in intra sentential code-switching requires good control of both codes. This may
reflect the attitudes of the majority the monolingual group in places like in North America and
Britain. In places such as New Guinea and East Africa where multilingualism is the norm,
attitudes to proficient code-switching are much more positive. The order of domains in which
language shift occurs may differ for different individuals and different groups, but gradually
over time the language of the wider society displaces the minority language mother tongue.
This may take three or four generations but sometimes language shift can be complemented in
just two generations. Typically, migrants are virtually monolingual in their mother tongue, their
children are bilingual, and their grandchildren are often monolingual in the language of the
host country.
o Non-migrant communities. Language shift is not always the result of migration. For this
community the home is the one most under any familys control, language may be maintained
in more domains than just the home.
o Migrant majorities When language shift occurs, it is always shift towards the language of the
domain powerful group. A domain group has no incentive to adopt the language of minority.
The domain language is associated with status, prestige, and social success. When a language
dies gradually, as opposed to all its speakers being wiped out by a massacre or epidemic, and
the function of the language are taken over in one domain after another by another.
o Attitudes and values. Positive attitudes support efforts to use the minority language in a
variety of domains, and this helps people resist the pressure from the majority group to switch
their language. There are certain social factors which seem to retard wholesale language shift
for a minority language group, at least for a time. First, where language is considered an
important symbol of a minority groups identity. Second, if families a minority group live near
each other frequently. Another factor which may contribute to language maintenance for those
who emigrate is the degree and frequency of contact with the homeland. Factors contributing
to language shift, those are economic, social, and political factors. The most obvious factor is
that the community sees an important reason for learning the second language. The second
important factor is their ethnic language. Demographic factor are also relevant in accounting
for the speed of language shift. Resistance to language shift tends to last longer in rural than in
urban areas. Shift tends to occur faster in some groups than in other. The size of the group is
sometimes a critical factor. Although the pressures to shift are strong, members of a minority
community can take active steps to protect its language. Where a language is rated as high in
status by its users, and yet also regarded as a language of solidarity to be used between
minority group members. Different factors combine in different ways in each social context,
and the result are rarely predictable. Monolingualism is regarded as normal, bilingualism is
considered unusual. Bilingualism and multilingulism which is normal.

Factors contributing to language shift:

1. Economic, social and political factor
i-The dominant language is associated with social status and prestige
ii-Obtaining work is the obvious economic reason for learning another language
iii-The pressure of institutional domains such as schools and the media
2. Demographic factors
i-Language shift is faster in urban areas than rural
ii-The size of the group is some times a critical factor
iii-Intermarriage between groups can accelerate language shift

3. Attitudes and values

Language shift is slower among communities where the minority language is highly valued,
therefore when the language is seen as an important symbol of ethnic identity its generally
maintained longer, and visa versa.

Language maintenance:
Language maintenance is the degree to which an individual or grups continues to use their
language, particulary in bilingual or multilingual area or among imigrant grup whereas language
shift is the process by which a new language is acquired by new community usually resulting
with the loss of the communitys first language.

Language maintenance refers to the situation where speech commuity continues to use its
traditional language in the face of a host of condition that might foster a shift to another

If language maintenance does not occur, there can be several results. One is language death;
speakers become bilingual, younger speakers become dominant in another language, and the
language is said to die. The speakers or the community does not die, of course, they just
become a subset of speakers of another language. The end result is language shift for the
population, and if the language isn't spoken elsewhere, it dies.
Language maintenance most likely happens if the speakers wish to affirm their separate
identity. For example, if they strongly value maintaining their language for cultural or religious
reason. The chance of language maintenance are also enhanced if the speakers from a
significant speech community and belong to cohesive social networks.
Speech communities have their own belief about their language. This condition as part of the
social condition, also affect the maintenance and transmission of that language. E.g. the belief
on the antiquity an d purity of Tamil by its community, which leads to maintain it by resisting
to any change in the corpus or status.
In monolingual speech community, especially which dont collectively acquiring any
other languages, have possibility of maintaining their language use pattern as it is. On the other
hand, in bilingual or multilingual communities language maintenance appear usually when the
community is diglossic. In such communities, languages reserved for different domains. With
very little violation one language on the domains of the others, the community maintains the
languages. When two speech communities live in the same geographical area, one community
might maintain the two languages and the other only one, with neither community shifted
(Fasold, 1984, 213).
Factors influencing language maintenance
Maintaining a minority language in various domains might be impeded by some factors. The
major factors that might lead to the process of language shift are summarized by Apple, R and
Muysken, P. (2005:33-37) as follows.
Economic status: this is when groups of minority language speakers have a relatively low
economic status. e. g. Masay in Kenya
Economic changes: i.e. modernization, industrialization and urbanization.
Social status: this is when a majority language is considered as a language of high status or
prestigious language. Quechua in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia have considered themselves to
have low social status, and tend to shift towards Spanish.
Socio-historical status: when speakers are inspired to struggle for their common interests as
members of an Ethno linguistic group, as group members in the past did.
Language status: seeking for the use of a language with international communication;
especially in a multilingual community.
Demographic factors & Mass media.
How can a minority language be maintained?
1) A language can be maintained and preserved, when it's highly valued as an important
symbol of ethnic identity for the minority group.
2) If families from a minority group live near each other and see each other frequently, their
interactions will help to maintain the language.

3) For emigrate individuals from a minority group, the degree and frequency of contact with
the homeland can contribute to language maintenance.
4) Intermarriage within the same minority group is helpful to maintain the native language.
5) Ensuring that the minority group language is used at formal settings such as schools or
worship places will increases language maintenance.
6) An extended normal family in which parents, children and grandchildren live together and
use the same minority language can help to maintain it.
7) Institutional support from domains such as education, law, administration, religion and
the media can make a difference between the success and failure of maintaining a minority
group language.

When all the people who speak a language die, the language dies with them. Sometimes this
fact is crystal clear. When a language dies gradually, as opposed to all its speakers being wiped
out by a massacre or epidemic, the process is similar to that of language shift. The functions of
the language are taken over in one domain after another by another language. As the domains
in which speakers use the language shrink, the speakers of the dying language become
gradually less proficient in it. With the spread of a majority group language into more and more
domains, the number of contexts in which individuals use the ethnic language diminishes. The
stylistic range that people acquire when they use a language in a wider range of domains
With the spread of a majority group language into more and more domains, the number of
contexts in which individuals use the ethnic language diminishes. The language usually retreats
till it is used only in the home, and finally it is restricted to such personal activities as counting,
praying and dreaming.
Example of language loss:
Annie at 20 is a young speaker of Dyirbal, an Australian Aboriginal language. He also speaks
English which she learned at school. There is no written Dyirbal material for her to read, and
there are fewer and fewer contexts in which she can appropriately hear and speak the
language. So she is steadily becoming less proficient in it. She can understand the Dyirbal she
hears used by older people in her community, and she uses it to speak to her grandmother. But
her grandmother is scathing about her ability in Dyirbal, saying Annie doesnt speak the
language properly.

Language Vitality

A language will last long and remain strong in a community if the social status of the target
language speakers remains high and the number of people using the target language remains

Code Switching & Mixing

Code-switching is the practice of moving between variations of languages in different contexts.
Everyone who speaks has learned to code-switch depending on the situation and setting. In an
educational context, code-switching is defined as the practice of switching between a primary
and a secondary language or discourse. Code-switching is distinct from other language contact
phenomena, such as borrowing, pidgins and creoles, loan translation (calques), and language
transfer (language interference). Borrowing affects the lexicon, the words that make up a
language, while code-switching takes place in individual utterances.Speakers form and establish
a pidgin language when two or more speakers who do not speak a common language form an
intermediate, third language. On the other hand, speakers practice code-switching when they
are each fluent in both languages.
(Code-switching) "occurs when a bilingual introduces a completely unassimilated word from
another language into his speech." (Haugen 1956:40)
Reasons for Code-switching

Janet Holmes mentions in her book that, 'a speaker may. . .switch to another language as a
signal of group membership and shared ethnicity within an addressee' (Holmes, 2000). Code-
switching can be used to express solidarity between people from different or the same ethnic
In linguistics, code-switching occurs when a speaker alternates between two or more
languages, or language varieties, in the context of a single conversation. Multilinguals, speakers
of more than one language, sometimes use elements of multiple languages when conversing
with each other. Thus, code-switching is the use of more than one linguistic variety in a manner
consistent with the syntax and phonology of each variety.

Types of switching
Scholars use different names for various types of code-switching.
Intersentential switching occurs outside the sentence or the clause level (i.e. at
sentence or clause boundaries).It is sometimes called "extrasentential" switching. In Assyrian-
English switching one could say, "Ani wideili. What happened?" ("Those, I did them. What

Intra-sentential switching occurs within a sentence or a clause. In Spanish-English

switching one could say, "La onda is to fight y jambar." ("The in-thing is to fight and steal.")

Tag-switching is the switching of either a tag phrase or a word, or both, from one
language to another, (common in intra-sentential switches).[26] In Spanish-English switching
one could say, "l es de Mxico y as los criaron a ellos, you know." ("He's from Mexico, and
they raise them like that, you know.")
Intra-word switching occurs within a word itself, such as at a morpheme boundary. In
Shona-English switching one could say, "But ma-day-s a-no a-ya ha-ndi-si ku-mu-on-a. ("But
these days I don't see him much.") Here the English plural morpheme -s appears alongside the
Shona prefix ma-, which also marks plurality.

In studies of bilingual language acquisition, code-mixing refers to a developmental stage during

which children mix elements of more than one language. Nearly all bilingual children go
through a period in which they move from one language to another without apparent
discrimination. This differs from code-switching, which is understood as the socially and
grammatically appropriate use of multiple varieties.
Code mixing is the systematic alternation of two or more languages during a conversation and
is part of virtually every bilingual community. In other words Code-mixing is the mixing of two
or more languages or language varieties in speech.
Some scholars use the terms "code-mixing" and "code-switching" interchangeably, especially in
studies of syntax, morphology, and other formal aspects of language.] Others assume more
specific definitions of code-mixing, but these specific definitions may be different in different
subfields of linguistics, education theory, communications etc.

Code-mixing is similar to the use or creation of pidgins; but while a pidgin is created across
groups that do not share a common language, code-mixing may occur within a multilingual
setting where speakers share more than one language.
While many linguists have worked to describe the difference between code-switching and
borrowing of words or phrases, the term code-mixing may be used to encompass both types of
language behavior.
In short, code switching, borrowing, style shifting and code mixing are some labels used in the
literature on bilingualism to describe various kinds of mixtures resulting from language contact.
These processes are so intermingled and differences are so subtle that it becomes problematic
for the linguist to dichotomize and proved explicit definitions for them.


In the Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics, Crystal (1991, p. 295) defines register as "a
variety of language defined according to its use in social situations, e.g. a register of scientific,
religious, formal English.
Holmes states that it refers to the language of groups of people with common interests or jobs,
or specific situations. The different registers can be seen in the language used by legalist,
auctioneers, race-callers, sports commentator, airline pilots, criminals, financiers, and
politicians, disc jockeys, in the courtroom and the classroom, journalist. The factors effecting
register use such as:
1. Whether written or spoken as informal or formal.
2. Literal variety and colloquial variety.
3. Kind of subject matter; physical setting and occasions of language activity.

Register stands for language (which is used by the user which considers about words choice,
purposes, style, and media in which language use is occurred). Therefore, Hunt & Jones (1999)
classified register as presented below:
Formal register
Formal register is a type of register that incorporates Standard American English and its used
by professionals or in situations where people are not familiar with one another
Informal register

Informal register is defined as a type of register used with more familiar people in casual
conversation. In the informal style of register, contractions are used more often, rules of
negation and agreement may be altered, and slang or colloquialisms may be used. Informal
register also permits certain abbreviations and deletions, but they are rule governed.
For example: deleting the "you" subject and the auxiliary often shorten questions. Instead of
asking, "Are you running in the marathon a person might ask, "Running the marathon?"
Over formal register

Over formal register means a type of register that can be characterized by the use of a false
high pitched nasal voice.
For example, a woman might approach another woman whom she does not really like and ask
her cordially in a high-pitched voice, what are you doing?.

In Crystal & Davy (1969), the word style is used in the way most other people use register: to
refer to particular ways of using language in particular contexts. The use of register had become
too loosely applied to almost any situational variety of language of any level of generality or
abstraction, and distinguished by too many different situational parameters of variation. Using
style in the same loose fashion, however, hardly solves anything, and goes against the usage of
style by most people in relation to individual texts or individual authors/speakers.
Principles of style

William Labov first introduced the concept of style in the context of sociolinguistics in the
1960s, though he did not explicitly define the term. Labov primarily studied individual linguistic
variables, and how they were associated with various social groups (e.g. social classes). He
summed up his ideas about style in five principles:
There are no single style speakers.

The vernacular, in which the minimum attention is paid to speech, provides the most
systematic data for linguistic analysis.
Labov characterized the vernacular as the original base mode of speech, learned at a very
young age, on which more complex styles build later in life. This "basic" style has the least
variation, and provides the most general account of the style of a given group.

Any systematic observation of a speaker defines a formal context where more than the
minimum attention is paid to speech.
In other words, even formal face-to-face interviews severely limit a speakers use of their
vernacular style. An interlocutors vernacular style is most likely displayed if they do not
perceive outside observers, and are not paying immediate attention to their own speech.

Face to face interviews are the only means of obtaining the volume and quality of recorded
speech that is needed for quantitative analysis."

The kind of style

Frozen style. It is the most formal style used in formal situations and ceremonies. Exp: In
written form (historical documents, and formal documents).
Formal style. It is used in formal speech, formal meeting, office correspondence, lesson books
for school, etc.
Consultative style. It ordinary conversation held at school, in meeting or conversation that leads
to result and production. It is the most operational one between casual and formal.
Casual style. It is used to speak with friends, family or relatives, during the leisure time, while
break or recreation, etc.
Intimate style. It used with people who have close relationships with the speaker. By using this
style those people do not need to use complete sentences with clear articulation, they just
simply use short words.
Style shifting
In bilingual communitys stylistic levels may be marked by switching from one variety into
another, the commonly accepted explanation for this

stylistic variation can be the care that speakers and writers take with their expression. The
more formal the situation, this explanation goes we should more pay attention to our language
and so the more we are likely to conform the favored and educated norm of society. (Trudgill,
1992: 50). Style shifting refers to a single speaker changing style in response to context. The
norms in which the attention of care is more focused upon since it does not deal with the
possibility of conscious choice of a less or more formal style. One idea to explain that is the
notion of audience design which is a speaker who can control more than one variety chooses a
level of speech according to the audience he or she is addressing in relation to unconsciousness
E.g.: we may choose an informal style when speaking to a stranger in order to seem friendlier.
This contributes to the social identity of the speaker and establishes social relations. Audience
design can also be defined as recognition of stylistic levels as being appropriate to specific social