Sociolinguistics: Feasibility or Implications

By: Fatina Sarwar

The etymological breakdown of the term socio-linguistics into "socio" (a lexical combining form to mean the relationship with society) and "linguistics"(the systematic study of language which is a means of communication) makes it obvious that it is the linguistic study under the pretext of the society. Whenever a linguist starts relating language variations and choices in interpersonal and intercommunal communications
with various social circumstances, say, distinct social classes, variant cultural and
academic backgrounds, age, gender, ethnicity and so on, he steps into the domains of sociolinguistic studies involving the extensive field-exploration oriented practicability of this conspicuous branch of applied linguistics in the interexchanging political, economical and cultural phenomena of society.

Sociolinguistics is politically important when it involves the analysis of regional and
social dialects and codification of a language leading towards the standardization of it
reflecting attribution of power in the society. The sociolinguistic analysis of
phonological ,grammatical, lexical, discoursal, pragmatic and semantic aspects helps to
dig up the political intention of the politicians. The language that Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), one of the two major political parties of Bangladesh uses differs from the language of Awami League (AL), the other one, phonologically, lexically, syntactically,
semantically, pragmatically and discoursally reflecting the distinct polito-pationate
agendas of ruling the country of the these two parties which can be a concern of
sociolinguistics. The existing leaders of the both parties either consciously or
subconsciously attempt to echo in different degrees the discrete phonological stresses and
intonations of the spoken discourse of the two deceased cardinal leaders of these
respective parties besides using the vocabulary and syntactic items of distinct specialties.
Sociolinguistic researches would help to identify such variations which could enhance the instrospection not only of the political experts but also of the common politically concerned crowd of the country to reach towards a befitting political conclusion. Moreover, the more the political leaders are sociolinguistically aware the more they deliver contextually appropriate speeches to convince the people of different communal entities to grant their political agendas. A political leader should not deliver a speech in dialect in a political gathering of urban elite but his use of dialects and specific accents related to the dialect he attempts to present through his speech would definitely be helpful to win the consent of the maximum people of a mass gathering of a dialect - specific area.

Sociolinguistics is necessarily applicable in the economic fields of the society. Being
an important means of marketing, advertisements of various productions contain different
claims with different linguistic forms addressing to varied target audiences of different
ages, genders, classes and conditions. The wording "squeeze me to blow up my balloon
and press button in my head to hear me sound with musical sound" is definitely addressed to the child consumers of toys .On the other hand, "banish gray hair" would be the commercial text for the consumers being in their middle age onwards. "X shampoo leaves your hair silky clean -and beautifully manageable as well" is generally targeted to the young, beauty-conscious female addresses. Sociolinguists are there in this regard to open more scopes for linguistic approaches of marketing along with the research for the existing ones. Again, the language of some trade agreement might have some hidden
target of financial exploitation. A propagandized report of economy might hatch some
threat against the sovereignty of a nation for the future. Socilinguists are also there
alongside with the economic specialists to detect so to assist the corresponding authority
in disentangling economic complexities.

Sociolinguistics is also very much crucial at the academic sectors of the society. The
academic branches TESOL (Teaching English to the Speakers of Other Languages), ELT (English Language Teaching), SLA (Second Language Acquisition) etc. are all mostly grounded on sociolinguistics though psycholinguistic factors are also occupied there. A second/foreign language (SL/FL) teacher has to consider all the surrounding social factors of his/her students (age, class, culture, gender, religion and so on) to make them internalize the target language (TL) along with its inevitable correlating culture. It is not a good idea for an FL/SL teacher of English in Bangladesh to provide his/her adolescent students lessons covering the topic " homosexuality" which is culturally abominable here but quite acceptable in the western context of English language. SL/FL teachers of
English can present lessons on less controversial but universally important social issues
like wedlock, finance, sports, shopping etc. associating contrastive and complementary
linguistic items of the first language (L1) of the students and the TL.A translator must be
sociolinguistically alert in translating the text of the source language (SL) into the text of
the target language (TL) for the total comprehensibility of his target readers. Thus,
sociolingistics is essentially contributive to the educational sectors of a society.

Sociolinguistc knowledge also subscribes to ethnical and cultural studies and observations. Just Like professor Higgins of Bernard Shaw' s "Pygmalion" (1916) a sociolinguist can trace out the social backgrounds by only listening to the interlocutors' accents .It, therefore, smoothens the path of anthropological studies. When a sociolinguist conducts any synchronic study of language shift of some linguistic community or communities or when he conducts the diachronic study of language change of any
linguistic community the study of culture blended with historicity becomes unavoidable.
The sociolinguistic research of the tribal languages of Bangladesh is doubtlessly
beneficial for the springing up of the ethnical and anthropological studies of the
Bangladeshi tribes .The sociolinguistic study of the language (the study of code-
switching, code-mixing, language variation etc.) reflected in media and entertainment
renders a comprehensive projection of the indigenous culture of a linguistic community. The language of a documentary or commercial film of certain nation has to irrevocably
manifest the linguistic habit of the social community being presented which would bear
undeniably distinct linguistic identity very much unlike of the other social communities
of the same country. Often, a united multi-communal picture of a specific territorial
context is presented along with the corresponding linguistic usage. For instance, the plot
of a commercial film may project a inter-woven picture of conflict and exchange of the
upper class and lower class of an in-territorial society whereas the plot of a social
documentary film might represent the picture of a single society. The sociolingustic knowledge (institutional or non-institutional) of the scriptwriter would make him put appropriate vernacular to the appropriate linguistic community he intends to present. A
sociolinguistically concerned professional is particular in using occupational linguistic
items as required by the context severed from the non-occupational ones. A linguist
would not necessarily use the language he uses in delivering an academic lecture in international conferences at home with his wife.

Being based on empiricism sociolingistics has en bloc extensions to the enhancement
of different socio-phenomena, which is expectantly inevitable and duly overlapping.
Though there are the scopes of these extensions to be outstretched from the boundaries of
sociolingustics to be led to the connected disciplinary studies, sociolinguistics, in
fact ,eminently plays the role of the fountainhead.


1.Richards, J.Platt, J and Weber, H.Longman Dictionary of Applied Linguistics.UK: Longman, 1985.

2.Shaw, Bernard.Pygmalion.London: Penguin, 1916.

3.Wardhaugh, Ronald.An Introduction to Sociolinguisctis.Oxford: Blackwell, 1986.


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