Introduction to Sociolinguistics


We all use language differently. We may use a different language or dialect from one another, or we may switch during the course of an interaction. Even within a dialect, we don't always speak or sign the same way in every situation, and at least some of this variation is correlated with a speaker's social characteristics and social goals. This course focuses on socially-conditioned linguistic variation, people's attitudes toward it, and the meanings behind it. We discuss what happens during language contact and shift, and we also talk about measures that can be taken to fight language discrimination. This course gives students hands-on experience with data analysis. For the final project, students are required to design a study investigating a sociolinguistic research question.

This coming Fall, we will spend extra time on methods for mining existing data as well as collecting data online.

The prerequisite for this course is LING 320. Students must also have current graduate standing at UHM or have received prior consent from the instructor.

Publications in peer-reviewed journals that resulted from work completed in this course:

  • DeVore, Susanne. to appear. Humor production in Mandarin and English conversations. To appear in Humor: International Journal of Humor Research.

  • Gao, Katie B. 2015. Assessing the Linguistic Vitality of Miqie: An Endangered Ngwi (Loloish) Language of Yunnan, China. Language Documentation & Conservation 9: 164-191.

  • Kirtley, M. Joelle, James Grama, Katie Drager, and Sean Simpson. 2016. An acoustic analysis of the vowels of Hawai‘i English. Journal of the International Phonetic Association. doi:10.1017/S0025100315000456.

  • Khairunnisa. 2021. Variation in Ampenan Sasak pronominal forms. Asia-Pacific Language Variation 7(2): 120–141.

Conference proceedings, presentations and working papers that resulted from work completed in this course:

  • Belew, Anna. 2015. Two ‘pidgins,’ one attitude?: Comparing attitudes towards Cameroon Pidgin English and Hawaiʻi Pidgin English among Cameroonians in Honolulu. 8th World Congress of African Linguistics. Kyoto.

  • DeVore, Susanne. 2013. Humor Production in Mandarin and English Conversations. Presented at the 17th Annual Language, Linguistics and Literature Conference, Honolulu, Hawaii.

  • Drager, Katie, Rachel Schutz, Claire Stabile, and Bethany Kaleialohapau‘ole Chun Comstock. (2016) They say, 'he talk like one haole': Variation and change among quotative verbs in Hawai‘i. Presented at the LSA Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. in January.

  • Grama, James and Bodo Winter. 2010. The duality of a homosexual epithet in sports. Proceedings of 14th Annual Graduate Student Conference of the College of Languages, Linguistics, and Literature. University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Honolulu, Hawai‘i.

  • Handley, Noella. 2017. The (ING) variation in Hawaiʻi English of Oʻahu and Big Island speakers. Paper presented at the 21st Annual Graduate Student Conference of the College of Languages, Linguistics, and Literature. University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Honolulu, Hawai‘i.

  • Hardeman, Kate. 2011. Foreigners speaking Chinese: Native Mandarin speakers' attitudes toward CSL speech. Paper presented at the 10th East-West Center International Graduate Student Conference on the Asia-Pacific Region. University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Honolulu, Hawai‘i.

  • Hardeman, Kate. 2012. Foreigners speaking Chinese? Attitudes about non-native Mandarin speakers. Working Papers in Linguistics: University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa 43(3): 1-11.

  • Hooshiar, Kavon, Katie Drager, and Cassidy Copeland. 2016. Coronal stop deletion in Hawaiʻi English. Poster presented at the joint meeting of Acoustical Society of America and the Acoustical Society of Japan in Honolulu, November/December 2016.

  • Jung, Heeyeong. 2011. Pitch and Gender: Presentation of a professional yet friendly teacher persona. Paper presented at The 7th Worldwide Consortium of Korean Studies Centers Workshop, SOAS, University of London, June 2011.

  • Khairunnisa, FNU (Nisa). 2020. Open pronominal system in Sasak Presented at the LSA Annual Meeting, January 2020.

  • Kirtley, M. Joelle. 2010. Making a Soldier out of a Civilian: Linguistic Identity in the U.S. Military. Paper presented at the American Dialect Society's Language Variation and Change in the United States and Canada 2010. Chicago, November 4-7, 2010.

  • Mawardi, Dzulfikri. 2012. Javanese language, Is it a falling legend? Paper presented at the 16th Annual Student Conference of the College of Languages, Linguistics, and Literature. University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

  • Strong, Katherine, Kate Lindsey, and Katie Drager. 2020. Gender, oration, and variable affrication in Ende. To appear in Penn Working Papers in Linguistics in 2020.

What students have said about this course (excerpts from anonymous course evaluations):

  • "It was fun and gave me a lot of helpful tools for future graduate level courses."

  • "The assignments really made me think about sociolinguistic theory & made me step out of my comfort zone."

  • Dr Dre "was very helpful and excited to teach the class. She was understanding and had students' best interests at heart. Always made class fun and exciting."

  • "Was extremely flexible and challenged us to think through problems before giving us the answer right away."

  • "This instructor has very high standards for her students, but she offers all the training and tools needed for success. The key to doing well is communicating honestly with the instructor, and especially asking for help when you don't understand something. (Dr. Drager's classroom is a supportive environment & there are no stupid questions)."

  • "This course is the most demanding, but definitely best course I've taken since I started my Ph.D. course. You were very helpful. I really appreciate it. Thank you very much!!"

Still not sure if this is the right course for you? Email me with any questions and for a copy of the syllabus.

Katie Drager, Associate Professor

Department of Linguistics, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

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