Language Is the Mirror of Society
Preamble: Sociolinguistics is the mirror of society. It is not presupposed. We have to mention some important feature and information to justify the comment. To prove this we should clarify some initial terms before discussing further. Sociolinguistics: Sociolinguistics is the study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and the effects of language use on society.
Sociolinguistics differs from sociology of language in that the focus of sociolinguistics is the effect of the society on the language, while the latter’s focus is on the language’s effect on the society. Sociolinguistics overlaps to a considerable degree with pragmatics.
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It is historically closely related to linguistic anthropology and the distinction between the two fields has even been questioned recently. It also studies how language varieties 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 or socioeconomic classes. As the usage of a language varies from place to place, language usage also varies among social classes. The social aspects of language were in the modern sense first studied by Indian and Japanese linguists in the 1930s, and also by Gauchat in Switzerland in the early 1900s, but none received much attention in the West until much later. The study of the social motivation of language change, on the other hand, has its foundation in the wave model of the late 19th century.
The first attested use of the term sociolinguistics was by Thomas Callan Hodson in the title of a 1939 paper. Sociolinguistics in the West first appeared in the 1960s and was pioneered by linguists such as William Labov in the US and Basil Bernstein in the UK Society: A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations.
Human societies are characterized by patterns of relationships (social relations) between individuals who share a distinctive culture and institutions; a given society may be described as the sum total of such relationships among its constituent members. In social sciences, a society invariably entails social stratification and/or dominance hierarchy. Insofar as it is collaborative, a society can enable its members to benefit in ways that would not otherwise be possible on an individual basis; both individual and social (common) benefits can thus be distinguished, or in many cases found to overlap.
A society can also consist of like-minded people governed by their own norms and values within a dominant, larger society. This is sometimes referred to as a subculture, a term used extensively within criminology. More broadly, a society may be described as an economic, social, or industrial infrastructure, made up of a varied collection of individuals. Members of a society may be from different ethnic groups. A society can be a particular ethnic group, such as the Saxons; a nation state, such as Bhutan; or a broader cultural group, such as a Western society.
The word society may also refer to an organized voluntary association of people for religious, benevolent, cultural, scientific, political, patriotic, or other purposes. A “society” may even, though more by means of metaphor, refer to a social organism such as an ant colony or any cooperative aggregate such as, for example, in some formulations of artificial intelligence. Language: The word “language” has two meanings: language as a general concept and “a language” (a specific linguistic system, e. g. “French”). Languages other than English often have two separate words for these distinct concepts.
French for example uses the word langage for language as a concept and langue as the specific instance of language. When speaking of language as a general concept, several different definitions can be used that stress different aspects of the phenomenon. Language, The Social Mirror: Language is a multi-faceted phenomenon. For Chomsky, language is the human essence, a mirror reflecting the natural creativity of the mind. However, language, with its rich variation, can also be seen as a mirror reflecting the miscellaneous nature of the society or the distinct locality of a culture.
In her book, Language, the Social Mirror (1982), Chaika states that language and society are so closely intertwined that it is impossible to understand one without the other (p. 1). The mutual dependence, mutual influence, and mutual shaping between language and society are inevitable. Similarly, language and culture are intimately interrelated. Instead of thinking of language and culture, Duranti (1997: 336-7), following Harry Hoijer (1953), suggests that we should think of language in culture.
He further states, the linguistic system interprets all other systems within the culture. To expand this idea, we could say that language is in us as much as we are in language. This statement reminds us of linguistic relativity contained within the Whorfian Hypothesis, and at the same time suggests that language is a mirror of the society as well as culture . The following sections will look at language from a socio-cultural perspective, and point out the implications of this outlook on foreign language teaching.
Language from a Sociocultural Perspective: In theoretical linguistics, uniformity is the norm; for a formal theory of language intends to reveal the regularity of forms and rules. Toward this end, linguistic data are limited to sentences (as the biggest linguistic units) taken from standard language. Generative Grammar is a perfect example of theoretical linguistics. By contrast, in the study of language in its sociocultural context, best represented by Sociolinguistics and Ethno linguistics, variation is the norm.
As noted in passing, linguistic variation is better known as linguistic relativity. In the latest development of the discipline, there has been a pull-and-push tension between relativity and universality in the study of human language. In terms of degree, setting the chronological order aside, linguistic relativity is partly visible in Saussurean structuralism, quite visible in the Bloomfieldian school, highly idealized in the Humboldtian framework, strongly dominating in the Boasian tradition, and well established in the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis.
In our opinion, linguistic relativity is best captured by the neo-Bloomfieldian postulate: Every language is unique, structurally and culturally. Going back to the study of language in its sociocultural context, we believe that the most fruitful discussion of linguistic relativity should be related to linguistic universality. The notion of universality is very popular in the Chosmkyan school, but less popular in the Greenbergian school. The former, formulated in the theory of Universal Grammar, is essentially universality in micro-linguistics, mostly pertaining to abstract syntax.
The latter, formulated in Universals and Typology (Comrie 1989), is universality measured across universal parameters in phonology, morphology and syntax, resulting in typologies across languages. While the approach in the former is more theory-driven and the approach in the latter is more data-driven, both the Chomskyan and Greenbergian schools are confined within the domain of context-free linguistics. Therefore, both types of universality are inadequate for the purpose of explaining linguistic relativity in context bound linguistics.
To raise the matter of language and society we should discuss the relativity from linguistic perspectives. To the best of our knowledge, the most appropriate universal parameters to explain linguistic relativity are those proposed by Clark & Clark (1977: 516-17), a rather obscure reference since they are not theoretical linguists but scholars in Psycholinguistics. In fact, Clark & Clark do not give much elaboration to their parameters. Despite the marginal position of the following parameters in linguistic theory, they should prove very useful in explaining linguistic relativity.
Universals in Human Language: a. Every language is learned by children. b. Every language is spoken and understood by adults easily and efficiently. c. Every language embodies the ideas people normally want to convey. d. Every language functions as a communicative system in a sociocultural setting. These universal parameters seem to be observation-based and hence empirically verifiable; and they are on par with the laymans definition of language, i. e. , language is a means of verbal communication.
Not the structural feature but the functional nature of language is presupposed in each of these parameters. The question is: how do these universal parameters explain linguistic variation? Parameter (15) a implies that L1 acquisition is part of cultural transmission, or from the Chomskyan perspective the exposure of the LAD to primary language data. In acquiring their L1, children simultaneously acquire the sociocultural values. Parameter (15) b is true with mono-level languages, like Indonesian or English, but not necessarily true with multi-level languages, such as Balinese, Javanese, or Sundanese.
It is observed that the mastery of Javanese varies considerably across speakers: all of them are fluent speakers of the ngoko low form, but not many of them, particularly among younger generations, are fluent speakers of the krama high form. The picture of prosperous society can be seen from this variation and the force is language. Parameter (15) c is universally true at the functional level, but variation occurs at the structural level and in the manner of conveying ideas. Parameter (15)d, like (15)c, is universally true with reference to a language as a whole communicative system, but languages vary structurally across cultures.
The neo-Bloomfieldian postulate stated above (i. e. , every language is unique, structurally and culturally) modifies parameters (15)c and (15)d. Language as social network Language is a social phenomenon. Because language arises naturally and inevitably in all human groups, linguists study not simply the sounds, grammars and meanings of the world’s languages, but also how these languages function in their social settings. Many linguists believe that humans are genetically programmed to learn language, but it still takes social contact to turn on the switch that makes us talk.
Because our social networks tend to be complex, we all use multiple versions of our native language. We may speak differently when we’re with friends, relatives or strangers; when we’re at home, in school or on the job. The context of communication — its purpose and audience — determines whether our words are spoken or written, formal or informal, full of slang or technical jargon, off-color, colorful, or colorless. The social context of communication also affects the degree to which our language approaches or avoids the norms of correctness that our speech community deems appropriate to the occasion.
Social contact and social conflict both shape language. Relative changes in language due to social changes Social changes produce changes in language. This affects values in ways that have not been accurately understood. Language incorporates social values. However, social values are only the same as linguistic values when the society is a stable and unchanging one. Once society starts changing, then language change produces special effects. The use of language forms a closed loop, since it is modelled on the loop of projection and introjection.
The difference between the two loops is simply that the psychological one is based on individual meanings and the linguistic one on social values. This link between language and social values is one of identity, but only as long as society is static or is evolving slowly. In a static society, the language is the society. Society is its language. The two are one. Language and society are two different systems since the structure within language centres on the static signifier whilst the structure within consciousness orientates on the dynamic signified.
In times of stability the dynamic structure of consciousness is put on hold, so linguistic values and social values are one. However, as society changes so the dynamic structure gradually comes into the foreground. Perhaps it is more accurate to put this effect the other way around: as the dynamic structure of consciousness becomes accentuated, so society begins to change. Relative changes in society due to language changes: Language contains traditional values – this is what is implied in the ideas of social conditioning and social learning. In a static society, traditional values are unquestioned.
Hence social learning takes the form of social conditioning. Social conditioning is the unquestioned or confused adherence to social norms, and occurs when society is taken to be self-referential. Society is the judge of its own needs. The only circumstance that normally breaks social conditioning in some degree is change. Therefore in a period of fast social change, chaos occurs as social norms are questioned, altered and perhaps even rejected. New norms are slowly generated. This chaos ensures that society can no longer be regarded as being self-referential.
In this situation of chaos, language is grasped as being self-referential. Then language is no longer necessarily tied to social reality. In such times, values change as the values within language change and we may witness radical innovation in artistic genres. For example, the nineteenth century saw the focus on art for art’s sake, along with science for science’s sake (neither art nor science were to be dependent of values external to themselves, such as social usefulness). Then the problem of grappling with the new possibilities of language produced the dense symbolism of Mallarme.
In twentieth-century literary theory the text has become autonomous and self-contained, and/or the reader has acquired total freedom in his interpretation of the text. Language creates society: This relation is not apparent in static societies; it is easy to assume that society antedates language. Even ‘primitive’ societies are no exception. A ‘primitive’ society is one where language use is primitive, and indicates hunter-gatherer tribes – yet a tribe cannot be established until the necessary linguistic signs for authority are created.
Society cannot be created until a group of people has some values in common. And values require a language to embed them and articulate them. It is language that brings people together and keeps them together. Language always precedes society. Even in small groups this relation holds: for example, in a political discussion group the people come together because they already have, or want to learn, a common political language. Some models to explain how language interacts with society: Features of society affecting language use and response may be (more or less): • Static: e. g. thnicity, gender, class background • Changing: e. g. education, age, social environment, attitudes and fashions • Situational/contextual: e. g. immediate social situation (workplace, home, recreation, peer group, perceived formality of situation) In studying this wide field of language theory, we will find it impossible to have detailed knowledge of all social categories. We should, however, have a range of examples from different areas as shown above. We should also have a wide body of examples from a smaller range of categories – especially any on which we may be examined.
We must be able to comment on language features (relevant to sociolinguistics) in these examples. Shirley Russell takes the first approach in Grammar, Structure and Style (OUP; ISBN 0-19-831179-6), looking in depth at gender, advertising and law only. George Keith and John Shuttleworth Living Language Hodder; (ISBN 0-340-67343-5) take the second – they do not identify any topic within the general subject area, but give copybook examples of how to “read” a text that embodies attitudes to society in its language use. Relationship between Education and Society
To show the relation of sociolinguistics with society from educational perspective we should discuss the relationship between education and society. We have seen education in particular as a means of cultural transmission from one generation to another. The parents are the first teachers of the child and they still maintain an educative function throughout the early and formative years of the child. In most of the developing nations of the world, including Nigeria, parents are responsible for sending their children or wards to school.
Since these nations are undergoing rapid socioeconomic and political changes, they witness special problems in evolving the appropriate education system, which will be able to produce the adequate manpower needs in all the segments of the society. Schools are established in many societies of the world so as to instill in the pupils those skill’s which will afford them the opportunity of taking their rightful positions in the society; but this function cannot be adequately accomplished without the assistance of the home because both the home and the school perform complimentary functions in the moral and intellectual development of the child.
This means that the child cannot be educated in a vacuum or in isolation. Therefore, for a child to be educated there must be interaction between him and his physical and social environment. By this we mean that education is the development of personality. It is something which goes on both inside and outside the home and in the school. In other words, education is an activity of the whole community. This means that education is used in the transmission of the cultural values.
One important implication of looking at education as the transmitter of cultural values is the fact that education can be influenced by the culture of the society in which it takes place. For this reason, one may infer that for a child to be educated, he must be influenced by his environment and, in turn, be capable of influencing it. And it is only by the concept of the continuous interaction of the individual and his society that the development of personality can be properly understood.
We have noted above that education is a means through which the cultural values of a particular society are transmitted from one generation to another. Through this process, the society is able to achieve basic social conformity and ensure that its traditional values, beliefs, attitudes and aspirations are maintained and preserved. Clarks (1948) observed that a general knowledge and acceptance of the ideals and aims of our society is essential for all its citizens, and it must be achieved through education but in a form, which makes it compatible with freedom.
So he reconciles the double purpose by saying that admittedly, the purpose of the educative society may be to make men conformable. But overmastering that must be the purpose to make men free. A society needs a stable and dynamic set of values and a, unified purpose. It is when this is ascertained that meaningful economic, political and social programmes can be embarked upon for ~he overall benefits of the citizens. To be a fully developed person in such a society implies full and creative membership of it with powers to change it.
Ottaway (1980) contended that the transmission of culture still remains a vital function, and is not to be dismissed as merely conservative in the sense of being old-fashioned. He further observed that our children are potentially the society of the future, which still belongs to the non-social community, and education in this respect can be regarded as a socialization of the young. Education depends on the total way of life of a people in a society. This suggests that the type of education provided will differ from society to society.
Besides, each society has her own norms, values and her own ideal persons who stand out clearly for the younger generations to emulate. Since all these societies are not the same, then it means that a man regarded as a hero in one society because of his contributions to educational development of the society may not be regarded as such in another society where education is not given priority in the scheme of their daily activities. It, therefore, implies that children have different people to emulate in different societies.
It is logical to expect that the type of education given in each society will change from time to time as the society changes. Many writers have argued that education is one of the causes of social change in the society, but another school of thought is of the opinion, that educational change tends to follow other social changes, rather than initiate them. Ottaway (1980) observed that ideas of change originate in the minds of men; often in the mind of a single man. Exceptional individuals invent new techniques and propound new values for their society.
These ideas arise from the impact of men on his culture, but do not change the culture until they are shared and transmitted by a social group. In his own submission, Boocock (1972) noted that societies undergoing rapid social change or modernization have special problems in adapting the educational system to the manpower needs of the world. They often suffer shortages of persons with special kinds of learning in engineering and other technical fields and may have difficulty in keeping persons with valuable skills once they have completed their education.
Another area of the relationship between education and society is through the arrangement of the entire society into a hierarchical order that is, through the social structure in which education plays a prominent and significant role in fixing educated individuals into social classes. Ottaway (1980) observed that education is the process of preparing people to fit into this complex social structure and to play particular social roles as members of more than one institutional group. Individuals have to learn to be fathers or mothers, school teachers or civil servants, shopkeepers or priests.
They have to learn to keep the law, to understand how they are governed and to be prepared to try and change the social moves when they see that they can be improved. Education as a social phenomenon is also concerned with the preparation of the child for his future occupation in life. This is one of the main economic functions of education and this is in the interest of both the society and the individual. Through education an individual knows the structure of the society and the different types of relationships that exist among those structures in the society.
The child is taught how to perform different roles within the social structure in the society. These roles are inter-related. For example, the role of a father is a relational role; a father could be a son to another person. So education allows the child to perform his role adequately within the social structure in the society. In addition, the child is able to understand the network of inter-relationships among the different social institutions that make up the society. Also of importance are the different functions that are performed by each social institution in the society.
Like an individual, each institution has definite functions to perform in the society and the functions of each institution differ from one to another even though they are complimentary. Another aspect of the relationship between education and society is in the area of social interaction. Social interaction may be defined as any relation between people and groups, which changes the behaviour of the people in the group. There is a need for social interaction by the child before he could acquire the culture of his society.
This interaction in the society is therefore part of the child’s education, provided that, that type of interaction brings about positive changes in the child’s behaviour in a right direction as required by the educational system. One important point here is that the child has been taking part in group interaction long before he starts to attend school and the most common among these group interactions are within the family and the peergroup. These groups in which the child interacts give him the opportunity to learn from the wider circles in the society.
From his social contacts, he learns his roles in different groups and this influences his personality development. Many sociologists have appreciated the relationship between education and society and have concluded that the two are so interrelated. That one cannot draw any line of demarcation between them. It has been observed that the educational system of any nation must be based on the needs and demands of the society and that any educational system that fails to meet the needs, aspirations and ambitions of the society is not relevant and is bound to fail.
The educational system of any nation is concerned with, the transmitting of the cultural values of today to those who will live in the world of tomorrow, and contents of education must somehow strike a balance. Dubey et. al. (1984) observed that a good educational system, in all its full substance and ramifications, is related to the level of culture, industrial development, rate of urbanization, political organization, religious climate, family structure, stratification and other institutions of the total social system.
Finally, education has to fulfill both the individual’s needs and those of the society and must keep pace with other sub-systems in the society, as both variables are inter-related. Economy affects by language and society: By trying to detect evidence of the presence of the principle of linguistic economy in Early Modern English works, it was noted that most of the texts scrutinized and dealt with in this paper present the English language as a simple language to learn, made up of easy expressions and governed by few grammatical rules, which have undergone, in the course of many centuries, an ven more conspicuous simplification: «the English Language is perhaps of all the present European languages by much the most simple in its form and construction This characteristic results from gradual linguistic changes, but it can also be traced back to the very nature of the English language and its speakers; English people are depicted as savers («we are a people very sparing of our words, and even of our syllables»: White 1761:29), who avoid excessive efforts to communicate: «we have a fondness for Abbreviations, and that fills our language with many Monosyllables» (Collyer 1735:68).
Moreover, the monosyllabic nature of the lexicon is often underlined: «monosyllables are very numerous in our English Tongue, that. s why it is an easy Tongue to write and to speak» (Aickin 1693:30). A lot of remarks concern the use of several abbreviations, or the lack of morphological endings that usually indicate syntactic connections, or again the purity and elegance of its construction, all aspects that indicate economy and saving as beneficial, almost peculiar characteristics of the language.
Some of the most important aspects coming out of the analysis of the texts will be now considered and investigated, in order to emphasize the presence or the absence of the concept of economy in the observations collected; the related comments will be classified by linguistic levels. Conclusion: The whole discussion brought the vicegerency of language, society, economy, education, culture and so on among them. One is representative of another. Overall contributions make the society and sociolinguistics analyze the role of each individual element.
We can strongly take apart to accept sociolinguistics as the mirror of the society. REFERENCES • Wikipedia, the free world encyclopedia. • Ronald Wardhaugh: An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. • Becker, Alton L. 1995. Beyond Translation: Essays toward a Modern Philology. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. • Brown, Douglas H. 1994. Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. New Jersey: Prentice Hall Regents. • Brown, Penelope & Levinson, Stephen C. 1987. Politeness: Some universals in language use.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press • Chaika, Elaine. 1982. Language the Social Mirror. London: Newbury House Publishers, Inc. • Chaudhary, Nandita. 2004. Listening to Culture: Constructing Reality from Everyday Talk. New Delhi: Sage Publications. • Chomsky, Noam. 1972. Language and Mind (Enlarged Edition). San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Publishers. • Clark, Herbert H. & Clark, Eve V. 1977. Psychology and Language: An Introduction to • Psycholinguistics. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers. • Comrie, Bernard. 989. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology (second edition. ) The University of Chicago Press. • Duranti, Alessandro. 1997. Linguistic Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. • Finochiaro, Mary. 1974. English as a Second Language: From Theory to Practice. New York: Regents Publishing Co. • Blakemore, K. and Cooksey, B. (1981). A Sociology of Education for Africa. London: George Allen & Unwin. • Boocock, S. (1972). An Introduction to the Sociology of Learning. New York: Houghton Mifflin. • Clarke, F. (1948).
Freedom in the Educative Society London: University Press. • Dubey, D. L. et. al (1984). An Introduction to the Sociology of Nigerian Education. London: Macmillan. • Durkheim, E. (1961). Moral Education, English Translation. London: Free Press. • Havighurst, R. J. (1960). Education, Social Mobility and Social Change in Four Societies. Homewood, III: Dorsey Press. The assignment prepared and submitted by the following students:- |SL |Full Name |Batch |Full ID No. | |01 |Md.
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