Course Description

This course takes a project based approach to the study of language as a social and cultural phenomenon, with special emphasis on the Spanish-speaking world. We will explore issues such as:

• The relationship between language and culture
• Communicative competence and pragmatics
• Social and linguistic factors in language variation and change
• Attitudes toward language and language choice
• Linguistic prejudice and language myths
• Language and identity; communities of practice
• Societal and individual bilingualism
• Languages in contact
• Language and nationhood
• Language and power
• Language description vs. prescriptive usage
• Official languages and language planning
• Spanish and Hispanics in the U.S.

Students will also be introduced to some sociolinguistic tools and methods, among them:

• Dialect surveys and linguistic atlases
• Ethnographic interviews and fieldwork
• Discourse analysis
• Corpus-based research
• Variation analysis
• Longitudinal studies
• Apparent time studies

In addition to course readings, in-class discussions and a midterm exam, students will prepare four sociolinguistics questionnaires, will organize an end-of-semester poster session and will develop a semester-long project designing and conducting a broader sociolinguistic research project in the local Hispanic community. More about the project will be explained in class.