Topic outline

  • General

    Sociolinguistics is a discipline within the field of linguistics concerned with the systematic investigation of human language in relation to the social life of its speakers. This course is designed to offer introductory knowledge of basic sociolinguistic terms (e.g., accent, dialect, diglossia) and methodology (i.e., real-time, apparent-time experiments) used by researchers to investigate language in its social context. We will discuss several of the topics that sociolinguists traditionally study, including the relationships between social identity and language use, linguistic diversity, language variation and change, and language contact. We will also examine some of the methods for collecting and analyzing data. By the end of this course, students will have acquired the ability to understand aspects of sociolinguistic theory and data, based on knowledge of the scholarly research in the field.





    The final exam will be held as an in-class exam at our faculty. You are expected to be present in person. If, due to health issues, that is a problem for you, please contact me. 


    The exam will be 90 min. long and the list of exam questions can be found on this site under the topic "Catalogue of exam questions". 


    You have three date options to choose from: 


    1. May 29, 2020, 13:30
    2. June 17, 2020, 9:00
    3. September 7, 2020, 10:00


    The rooms will be announced in due time. 





    Important: If you send me your presentation file by Monday, May 11, 2020, it will count as a timely submission. 





    Please click on this link to find the summary of the class survey. Thanks for participating!



    Syllabus (updated weekly)

    Lesson 1

    Introduction to sociolinguistics: What do sociolinguists study? 


    Lesson 2

    Languages, dialects, varieties

    Required reading: 

    Wardhaugh, R. (2006). An introduction to sociolinguistics. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell; pp. 25-57


    Lesson 3

    Language variation and change 

    Required reading: 

    Wardhaugh, R. (2006). An introduction to sociolinguistics. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell; pp. 196-219

    Optional reading: 

    Sankoff, G. (2004). Linguistic outcomes of language contact. In: J. K. Chambers, P. Trudgill & N. Schilling-Estes (Eds.), The handbook of language variation and change (pp. 638-668). Malden MA: Blackwell. 

    Lesson 4

    Language contact: The English situation

    Required reading: 

    Thomason, S. G. (2001). Language contact. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, chapter 1 (Introduction). 

    Optional reading: 

    Drager, K. (2012). Pidgin and Hawai'i English: An overview. Int. J. Lang. Transl. Intercult. Comm. 1/1, 61-73. 

    Dowling, T., McCormick, K. & Dyers, C. (2019). Language contact in Cape Town. In: R. Hickey (ed.), English in multilingual South Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 129-150. 

    Lessons 5 and 6


    Language, identity, and social class

    Required reading: 

    Guy, G. R. (2012). Language, social class, and status. In Mesthrie, R. (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Sociolinguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 159-185. 

    Optional reading: 

    Medeiros, M. (2019). National frenemies: linguistic intergroup attitudes in Canada. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 42:16, 3-22. 

    Lesson 7


    Language in relation to gender, sex, and age

    Required reading: 

    Wardhaugh, R, & Fuller, J. M. (2014). An introduction to sociolinguistics. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell. Chapter 12 (Language, Gender, Sexuality), pp. 311-333. 

    Optional reading:

    Meyerhoff, M. & Ehrlich, S. (2019). Language, gender, and sexuality. Annual Review of Linguistics, 5, 455-475. 


    Lesson 8


    Language and social interaction: ‘Communication Accommodation Theory‘

    Required reading:

    Giles, H. & Ogay, T. (2007), Communication Accommodation Theory. In: B. B. Waley, & W. Samter (Eds.), Explaining Communication: Contemporary Theory and Exemplars. Mahwah NJ: Erlbaum, pp. 293-310.

    Optional reading: 

    MacIntyre, P. D. (2019). Anxiety/Uncertainty Management and Communication Accommodation in Women’s Brief Dyadic Conversations With a Stranger: An Idiodynamic Approach. SAGE Open, 9/3,

    Lesson 9


    Multilingualism and code-switching

    Required reading:

    Wardhaugh, R. (2006). An introduction to sociolinguistics. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell; pp. 82-113. 


    Lesson 10

    Student presentations


    Lesson 11

    Student presentations


    Lesson 12

    Student presentations


    Lesson 13


    Global Englishes/English as an international language from a sociolinguistic perspective 

    • Grading %


      o          Attendance (i.e., doing the online lessons, not missing more than 3) = 20%

      o          Oral presentation  = 40%

      o          Final exam = 40%


      your assigned nbr Mar 17 + 24 Mar 31 Apr 07 Apr 14 May 12            presentation
      1  well done  well done  well done     done
      2  x  well done  well done  well done   done 
      3  x  x  x    
      4  x  x    
      5  well done  well done well done  well done done
      6  well done  well done  well done well done   done 
      7  only half?   well done  well done     well done done 
      8  well done  well done  well done  well done   done 
      9  well done  x  well done  only half?   well done done
      10  well done  well done  x  well done   done 
      11  well done  well done  well done  well done  well done done 
      12  well done  well done  well done  well done  well done done 



       well done

       well done

       well done

       well done

       well done

       well done

       well done

       well done

       well done






        The oral presentations will take place as scheduled but in digital format. The requirements stay the same as we discussed at the beginning of the semester (choose your own topic, prepare well, length 15 min. etc.), only the 5-min classroom task has been eliminated.

        Please find 3 exam questions stemming from your presentation that you think would be fair to ask your classmates at the exam. 

         We have reserved three lessons for presentations (and there will be no class activities during these dates): April 21 and 28 and May 5, 2020. The latest date by which you should upload/file-share your presentation with the class is May 5, 2020. 

        You are required to watch all presentations that were uploaded by your classmates before the semester ends. 



        Here are some of the options you have:

        a. Do a screencast of a powerpoint presentation. This is possible when you are using Powerpoint 2013 and later. You can record your voice while going through PPT slides (probably the easiest way). You can only record your voice or also broadcast an embedded video of yourself - that's up to you. Alternatively, you can use QuickTime Player (free download) to do a screen recording (under File -> New Screen Recording). 

        b. Record yourself with a video/ laptop camera or cell phone camera while giving your powerpoint presentation on your home computer. This way, we get a video of you giving the presentation. 

        c. Audio-record yourself using an audio recorder on your laptop or cell phone while giving the presentation and provide the ppt slides separately for us. 

        Note: I am sure there are other options available and you are free to choose the technology that best suits your needs.


        There are essentially two options:  

        (1) either create a video plus audio file, so that we can hear you talk and see your slides at the same time. 

        (2) or only create an audio file of yourself giving the presentation and upload the ppt slides separately. In this case, you need to add slide numbers on the ppt and then, as you talk, indicate which slide you are talking about (e.g., by saying: “now to slide number 3”). This will make it easier for your classmates and me to follow the presentation.


        Once you have made a recording of your presentation, you can decide to upload your file on a platform (e.g. Google Drive, Youtube) and share the link with the class in MOODLE. Alternatively, you can record your presentation in Youtube/ Teams directly and then post a link to it on MOODLE. Ondrej Tichy is the contact person if you have technical questions about where to post your presentation.

        If you choose the option to only record audio (in mp3) and upload your ppt slides separately, this could be uploaded on MOODLE if your files are under 20MB. 

        If you have trouble finding a solution for your online presentation, please talk to me via email. 

        • Language and social class (lessons 5 & 6)


          General information

          This is the equivalent of two online class sessions (weeks 5 and 6)

          You are required to do three tasks. First, answer questions about your homework reading assignment (Guy, 2012). Second, read a  newspaper article. Third, write an essay (approx. 1 page) about a specified topic. 

          Please type your answers (step 1) and your essay (step 3) on a computer and send them to me in an email (as one PDF file) by Friday, March 27, 2020. If I receive both the answers and the essay, you will be marked as 'present' for both lessons. If I only receive one task, you will be marked 'absent' for one of the classes. 

          Please read the following text as homework for lesson 7: 

          Wardhaugh, R. & Fuller, J. (2015). An introduction to sociolinguistics. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell. Chapter 12: Language, gender, and sexuality (pp. 311-332). (find it below)


          If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact me any time via email. 



          Step 1, Class reading, Guy (2012). Answer the following questions
          1. Briefly outline the impact that the Marxist and the alternative (continuous scale) definitions of class have on language use. 
          2. Explain the term ‘social stratification’. What are ‘sharp’ and ‘fine’ stratification types, according to Labov (1966)? 
          3. What are problems with the identification of social classes in non-industrialized cultures? 
          4. What can be said about pidgins/ creoles and social class? 
          5. Briefly explain the terms: 

                                                   i.     Speech community

                                                  ii.     Shared norms

                                                 iii.     Style-shifting

                                                 iv.     Social marker

                                                  v.     Overt prestige

          1. What is the role of networks (and network analysis) with regard to social class? 
          2. How are social change and language change related? 


          Step 2, Newspaper article, essay

          1. Read the following BBC article on the 2015 survey of social classes in the UK: 

          (Here is an  article on the topic in the Czech Republic that you might find interesting:, courtesy of your classmate Ayu Kim)

          2. Now do some online research of your own for the following task: 

          a. Compare the concept of social class between American and British societies. Do they mean the same in the US and the UK? Where do the countries differ with respect to categorizing people according to social classes? Find examples to illustrate your points. 

          b. Discuss your findings in relation to Czech society and how social class is understood/ defined here. What could be consequences for sociolinguistics? 

          Write an essay of approx. one page (Word/A4), Font Times New Roman, 12 point, 1.5 line spacing

        • Language, sex, and gender


          This class consists of two steps: A. Watch a lecture by Deborah Tannen on gender-specific language use and do a short task. B. Do some research of your own for a task on language use in speakers of non-binary gender. See details below: 

          A. Please watch this lecture by Deborah Tannen: (50 min.) and take notes. 

           TASK 1:  Identify three distinctive aspects of women’s behavior and language that Tannen mentions that you find interesting. Describe each in about 2 sentences. 


          B. Now do some research of your own and look for publications that deal with language and sex/gender as a non-binary category.

          TASK 2: Find (at least one) linguistic feature that can vary in relation to sexual/gender identity outside the binary. Describe the feature briefly (2-3 sentences). 


          Here is how you go about it:

          First, search for the "Google Scholar" database. This is a database that contains only scientific/ academic works. Searching for something on Google Scholar will give you only scholarly articles, books, journal articles, etc. as hits. You will easily find it by typing "Google Scholar" into Google and then going to the database. 

          Next, you should  type in your search items on Google Scholar. You have to come up with some terms that allow you to get hits that are relevant to your topic. As you are looking for non-binary gender identity, and linguistic features, you have to find some keywords related to these terms. Once Google Scholar returns hits, you have to look through them thoroughly. I suggest you read the titles carefully, and if a title sounds promising, then click on the article and read the abstract (=short summary at the beginning of each article). From the abstracts, you will be able to glean relevant information for TASK 2. You might have to look around a little bit, change search items a few times, and maybe click through the first couple of pages on Google Scholar to get to something that you might consider relevant. Once you have found a description of a feature that is characteristic of transgender/ non-binary language use, write 2-3 sentences about it. 

          The whole task can be done fairly quickly, if you come up with good search keywords. 

          Note: The linguistic feature that you are looking for could either be a characteristic feature that is used by transgender speakers, or it could be a feature that is used in relation to transgender speakers (you will see what I mean once you have started your research). 

          As homework, please submit (a) the three features gleaned from Tannen’s lecture and (b) the one distinctive feature from trans-identity speakers. Send me your Word or PDF file by Friday, April 3, 2020. 

          For next week, please read the article by Giles and Ogay (2007), Communication Accommodation Theory. In: B. B. Waley, & W. Samter (Eds.), Explaining Communication: Contemporary Theory and Exemplars. Mahwah NJ: Erlbaum, pp. 293-310. Find attachment below. 

        • Communication Accommodation


          For this class, you need to complete two tasks. First, watch a short PPT presentation about Communication Accommodation Theory, which summarizes the article you had to read as homework. Second, apply your new knowledge to one of the tasks outlined below. 


          Step 1

          Please watch the following video (4 min.). This short video summarizes the main findings of Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT), as described in your last reading assignment. 



          Step 2

          Choose one of the three tasks below and apply the following research question to it: 


          Research question: In your chosen task, identify instances where communication accommodation takes place. Specifically, find examples of convergence (two speakers increase similarities in their language) and examples of divergence (speakers increase linguistic differences between them). 


          Pay attention to features, such as 

          -       Repetition of words/ phrases

          -       Length of utterances

          -       Use of syntax/ grammar

          -       Expression of positive/ negative emotions

          -       Expressions of support/ opposition


          If you chose the video (task 3), pay additional attention to

          -       Speech style: voice, intonation, pauses

          -       Facial expressions 

          -       Body language


          Analyze your task briefly: Why do you think the interaction partners converged or diverged? (A few sentences are fine)


          Note: You don’t have to analyze every utterance. Focus on a few key points that you find important and characteristic of the conversation you are analyzing. There is no page requirement for your writing, but I believe more than 1 page is not necessary  (but certainly welcome if you have more to say). 



          Here are the three tasks from which you should choose one. 


          TASK 1: Teacher-student communication


          T:         If you won 5 million dollars, would you please tell us how you’d like to use it?

          S:         First, I will donate most money to charity foundation.

          T:         Yes, donate money to the charity foundation, that’s first, good.

          S:         I’d like to set up a kindergarten for poor.

          T:         Set up a kindergarten for the poor, great!

          S:         Buy a house for my parents.

          T:         Buy a house for your parents, good daughter.

          S:         Buy a sport car.

          T:         Sport car, a beautiful and expensive car, right?

          S:         Yes, and travel with my roommate.

          T:         Travel with your roommates. Thank you very much. and--, Who else?

          S:         If I have so much money,first, I make sure whether it is true.

          T:         OK, sure, it’s true. Yes?

          S:         Yes… Then I tell my parents about the good news.

          T:         Tell your parents. Also, share your happiness with your parents. Your parents will feel very happy. OK, go on.

          S:         And give them a part of the money to let them to go on a vocation.

          T:         Give money to them to travel around the world, yes?

          S:         Yes, next--, I want to use a part of the money to decorate my dormitory.

          T:         Ah, I want to be your roommate, decorate the dormitory.

          S:         And, give a part of money to my friend to travel together.

          T:         Yes, to travel together with friends.

          S:         At last, I would donate some money to the charity.

          T:         Kind-hearted girl, also charity foundation.

          S:         And then I would find a financial adviser to help me manager the rest of the money.

          T:         Oh, you will have some money left, you should ask the manager for help.

          S:         Yes.



          TASK 2: Twitter thread about alien conspiracy theory. 


          - Has anyone read that wild alien conspiracy theory? It’s been three days and I’m still freaking out. More info has been added so I probably won’t get much sleep tonight.


          - Has anyone else’s phone been laggy or acting strange, it’s happened after this #strayedaway Conspiracy #theyarenothuman


          - When the thread started from #strayedaway it was non-human. Everyone immediately started assuming that it was aliens, but what if it's not. There many other things that are non human for example demons, angels, god, the devil. #theyarenothuman


          - My goal was to come home after today’s final and study for my next finals but instead I’ve been 100% motionless for over an hour


          - So does anyone remember how they found the Malaysia airlines flight370 pilot and he just happened to have amnesia so he has no idea what happened? Yeah. Likely story. #theyarenothuman #theyarecoming


          #strayedaway #MH370 Hate to be potentially setting myself up for more voicemails. But I was looking at the #theyarenothuman tweets last night, and got a call of an unknown number. Obviously not answering an unknown call at like half 11, so i buttoned it. But got this voicemail


          - So I saw this tweet saying call this number and I called it and I tried sending it to my friend that I called this number and I couldn’t send it through dm and it wouldn’t let me post it and the video kept randomly adding to my camera roll #theyarenothuman


          - I searched up #strayedaway on friday, and today I received this voicemail and tried to call back to a number that doesn’t work... i’m shook. can anyone translate?? #theyarenothuman


          - Today's 41818 and the power at my school just went out, coincidence or not? (love how my teacher kept on working anyways) #theyarenothuman #strayedaway





          TASK 3: Clip from TV show Friends (under 3 min.)



          Please send me your analysis via email, as PDF or Word document, by Friday, April 10, 2020.


          There will be no reading assignment for next week. 


          For those of you who haven’t done it yet, please go to the class survey I sent out a few days ago to rate the contents and work load of the class. So far, only 5 have done it (out of 13). I had a look at the few responses so far and have incorporated suggestions of you into this class (more activities, less reading etc.). 


          • Multilingualism and code-switching


            For today’s lesson, you are required to read a chapter from the Wardhaugh textbook and answer some questions. Then, you should do a short research project. 


            Step 1: Please read the following book chapter on multilingualism, which you find attached below. 

            Wardhaugh, R. (2006). An introduction to sociolinguistics. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell; pp. 82-113. 


            Answer the following questions (a few sentences per question suffices): 

            1. Explain the concepts language shift and language maintenance
            2. What does balance mean in relation to multilingual speakers? Why is imbalance of language competence more commonly encountered in multilingual speakers? 
            3. When you think of downtown Prague, what does the linguistic landscape look like? 
            4. Explain diglossia. What are L and H varieties? What is referred to as domains in this respect? 
            5. What are phenomena/ features of multilingual discourse? 
            6. What is the difference between metaphorical and situational code-switching? 
            7. Briefly explain the basics of the Markedness Model. 


            Step 2: Do some of your own research. 

            1. Find a multilingual society involving English and describe how the multilingual situation arose (in one paragraph). 
            2. Now, find an example of one dialogue of people in that society that is characterized by the use of multiple languages (e.g., code-switching). I think you can find dialogues on Google or transcribe one from a (YouTube) video. It can be a short dialogue, but should show a mixing of different languages that are spoken in the society you are describing.
            3. Briefly (in a few sentences) comment on interesting aspects of the language-mixing in your dialogue. 


             If you have problems finding a multilingual text, you can use the PDF that I attached below. It shows transcripts of conversations between Czech-English bilingual children with caregivers.

            Please send me your homework via email, as PDF or Word document, by Friday, April 17, 2020.


          • Student presentations, no class activities

            Some presentations consist of two files - one Powerpoint file and one audio file. Please make sure that you download both and run them simultaneously.  

            Files where the audio is integrated into the Powerpoint file (screencasts) can be opened/ run by pressing F5. 

             If you have problems opening the files, please contact me or your classmate and we can send you the files via email. 

            At the end of each presentation, three exam questions can be found. Should you have any questions concerning issues addressed by a presentation, please get in touch with your classmate.  

          • Global Englishes from a sociolinguistic perspective


            Today’s lesson consists of two tasks. First, find a variety of Global English and describe some features of it. Second, comment on the concept of ‘Global Englishes’ and explore its implications for language education. 


            Task 1, Do some research (see, for instance., and find one lesser-known variety of English. I leave the definition of “lesser-known” up to your own judgement. 

            Next, find an audio or video example of it and identify 

            • 3 phonetic or phonological
            • 3 grammatical
            • 3 semantic (vocabulary)

            differences to better-known English varieties. You can either find sources that describe those differences, or you can do your own analysis. 


            Task 2, Read the definition of “Global English” (or “World English”) below: 


            English is now a globalised phenomenon and the numbers of English speakers around the globe have risen dramatically. Today non native English speakers outnumber native English speakers, and English has become the world's foremost lingua franca, dominating the world stage in a number of domains. The English language has transcended its original boundaries, resulting in more contact with other languages than any other language in the world. There has been an explosive growth in the number of English speakers, and this increased usage on a global level has resulted in innovations in its use as it is employed by speakers from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds and assumes distinct functions and forms in different contexts. It is no longer relevant to associate English purely with native speaking nations; today, English is spoken by the global community and, therefore, is a language with a global ownership. 

            (Galloway & Rose, Introducing Global Englishes, 2015). 


            Write a commentary:

            What is your opinion on the concept of Global Englishes and the assertion that a language is not dependent on native-speaker defined norms? What are implications for language education?


            Write approx. ½ page (word processor, Times New Roman 12 pt, 1.5 line spacing). 


            Please send me your audio/ video example (file or link) plus analysis and your commentary on Global Englishes by Friday, May 15, 2020.