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SPAN 682: Spanish Sociolinguistics

TuTh 2:00-3:15, Dey 301, Prof. Lucia Binotti (

Sociolinguistics is the study of language in its social context and the study of social life through linguistics. Broadly defined in this way sociolinguistics is a vast interdisciplinary field. It subsumes many different traditions of study that have their own titles as well as their own established methods and priorities. In fact, sociolinguistics is the best single label to represent a very wide range of contemporary research at the intersection of linguistics, sociology and social theory, social psychology and human communication studies. Sociolinguistics is probably the most active but also the most diverse area of contemporary language studies. Among its main concerns have been:

  • How are forms of speech and patterns of communication distributed across time and space?
  • How do individuals and social groups define themselves in and through language?
  • How do communities differ in the ‘ways of speaking’ they have adopted?
  • What are typical patterns in multilingual people’s use of languages?
  • How is language involved in social conflicts and tensions?
  • Do our attitudes to language reflect and perpetuate social divisions and discrimination, and could a better understanding of language in society alleviate these problems?
  • Is there a sociolinguistics theory of language use?
  • What are the most efficient, and defensible, ways of collecting language data?
  • What are the implications of qualitative and quantitative methods of sociolinguistics research?

This course arises these theoretical and methodological, but also practical, issues specifically focusing on the Spanish speaking world and on the relationship of Spanish with English. Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages of the world, and its extension and diversity provides the linguist and the student with an immensely productive field of analysis.

Requisites: Prerequisite, SPAN 360, 376, or 378.