LSA 315: Sociolinguistics of style

Mary Bucholtz | six-week course | TuTh 8:30 – 10:15, 155 Donner Lab

In recent years the concept of style, which has long been central to sociolinguistics, has developed in exciting new directions. This course examines the various ways in which style has been theorized and investigated in sociolinguistics and related fields. We will begin by exploring the basic "elements of style": what constitutes a style, whether in linguistics or in other domains? We then examine the relationship between style and similar linguistic concepts like register, genre, and dialect, exploring two primary ways that style has been conceptualized as a sociolinguistic phenomenon: as language use tied to social situations and as language use tied to social identity or persona. Finally, we will consider how styles are constructed, circulated, and evaluated. The course draws together the perspectives of quantitative and qualitative sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, and discourse analysis to offer a comprehensive view of how style is conceptualized and analyzed in contemporary scholarship.

Required reading: Nikolas Coupland, Style: Language Variation and Identity and selected materials available online.

Recommended reading: Norma Mendoza-Denton, Homegirls: Language and Cultural Practice among Latina Youth Gangs and H. Samy Alim, You Know My Steez: An Ethnographic and Sociolinguistic Study of Styleshifting in a Black American Speech Community.

Prerequisites: A previous course in sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, or socially oriented discourse analysis.

Areas of linguistics: Sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology

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