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School of English

Among the 78 survey participants, 16 were chosen to participant in the interviews. There were six major findings about bilingual Korean English speakers. First, bilingual Korean English speakers with different levels of self-assessed language proficiency use the languages differently based on their conversational partners or the social contexts of the conversation. Secondly, their self-assessed language proficiency does not relate to their social identity construction.

Establishing Social Identity Through Language Use - Carol M. Eastman,

Third, they select a specific language based on the language skills of their conversational partners. Fourth, they intentionally use Korean when talking about topics specifically related to Korean life or addressing others in ways that reflect cultural norms.

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Fifth, their social identities are shaped by the shared idea about typical Korean-American. Lastly, they use both Korean and English differently online depending on their social identities. These findings have implications both for research on language use and identity formation and for language teaching and learning.

Language use symbolically represents fundamental dimensions of social behavior and human interaction. The notion is simple, but the ways in which language reflects behavior can often be complex and subtle.

Furthermore, the relationship between language and society affects a wide range of encounters--from broadly based international relations to narrowly defined interpersonal relationships. Similarly, we might study the status of French and English in Canada or the status of national and vernacular languages in the developing nations of the world as symbols of fundamental social relations among cultures and nationalities.

In considering language as a social institution, sociolinguists often use sociological techniques involving data from questionnaires and summary statistical data, along with information from direct observation. A slightly different concern with language and society focuses more closely on the effect of particular kinds of social situations on language structure. For example, language contact studies focus on the origin and the linguistic composition of pidgin and creole languages.

These special language varieties arise when speakers from mutually unintelligible language groups need a common language for communication. Throughout the world, there are many sociohistorical situations that have resulted in these specialized language situations--in the Caribbean, Africa, South America, Asia, and the Pacific Islands.

In examining language contact situations, it is also possible to examine not only the details of a particular language but also the social and linguistic details that show how bilingual speakers use each language and switch between them. Another approach to language and society focuses on the situations and uses of language as an activity in its own right. The study of language in its social context tells us quite a bit about how we organize our social relationships within a particular community. Similarly, the use of sentence alternatives such as Pass the salt, Would you mind passing the salt , or I think this food could use a little salt is not a matter of simple sentence structure; the choice involves cultural values and norms of politeness, deference, and status.

In approaching language as a social activity, it is possible to focus on discovering the specific patterns or social rules for conducting conversation and discourse. We may, for example, describe the rules for opening and closing a conversation, how to take conversational turns, or how to tell a story or joke.

UC San Diego

First, the rise of particular specializations within this field has coincided with the emergence of more broadly based social and political issues. Thus, the focus on themes such as language and nationalism, language and ethnicity, and language and gender has corresponded with the rise of related issues in society at large. Second, specialists who examine the role of language and society have become more and more interested in applying the results of their studies to the broadly based social, educational, and political problems that probably gave rise to their emergence as sociolinguistic themes to begin with.


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For Educators Ask an Expert! Language use represents the fundamentals of social behavior and human interaction. The Handbook of Sociolinguistics.

Language and Social Identity: A Psychosocial Approach

Language and Its Uses. Oxford University Press, An introduction to language and society. An introduction to sociolinguistics. Dialects and American English.

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Walt Wolfram is the William C. He has pioneered research on social and ethnic dialects since the s, publishing 16 books and more than articles on language varieties such as African American English, Latino English, Appalachian English, and Southern Vernacular English. Wolfram is deeply involved in the application of sociolinguistic information and the dissemination of knowledge about dialects to the public. In this connection, he has been involved in the production of TV documentaries, museum exhibits, and other community-based dialect awareness initiatives; he also served as primary linguistic consultant for the Children's Television Workshop, the producers of Sesame Street.