Linguistics is a science that tries to discern what is the origin of different languages as well as to find out how they have evolved. Within this science there are several branches, sociolinguistics being one of the most important as it is responsible for analyzing the influence that society itself has on the language.

What is sociolinguistics?

The  sociolinguistics is a discipline whose mission is to determine how a language is influenced by customs, cultural norms and values of a society .

  • Definition of sociolinguistics
  • Types
  • Methodology
  • Sociolinguistic competence
  • Sociolinguistic context
  • Sociolinguistic language
  • Sociolinguistic variation
  • Authors
  • Examples
  • Books

Definition of sociolinguistics

Sociolinguistics can be defined as that branch of linguistics that studies the way in which culture and society determine the way in which a language develops and evolves .



Currently we can distinguish different types of sociolinguistics or sociolinguistic models, these are:

  • Variationist sociolinguistics:  also known as urban quantitative sociolinguistics or variaonist model, this type is in charge of studying the sociolects , that is, the linguistic variants that arise in different social groups either for reasons such as age, education or profession.
  • Synchronous sociolinguistics: this type is in charge of analyzing the way in which a social situation or the person’s own attitude affects the language and makes it present nuances and variations.
  • Historical sociolinguistics: also known as diachronic, it is in charge of seeing how a language has been changing, how it has spread and what elements it has acquired from others.
  • Correlational sociolinguistics: defends that social groups arose before language.
  • Interactional sociolinguistics : or interpretive sociolinguistics, it is opposed to correlational sociolinguistics by interpreting that language helps social groups to form .
  • Traditional sociolinguistics:  try to see how social facts produce different linguistic phenomena.
  • Critical sociolinguistics: this branch is opposed to traditional sociolinguistics by considering that it is the practice of the language itself that gives rise to society.


To carry out a sociolinguistic study, a methodology composed of the following steps is normally followed:

  • Development of the hypothesis : this will be the starting point of our study
  • Define the population to be observed: sometimes the population will be a small town but in others, it can be a large city, so we will have to decide the communities and inhabitants to be observed.
  • Selection of the sample: this can be orange blossom or deliberate.
  • Data collection: it is time to collect the sociolinguistic data of a population, usually through a recorded interview.
  • Analysis: the data obtained are subjected to an in-depth qualitative and quantitative analysis.
  • Interpretation: it is the final step and consists of making sense of the analyzed data and drawing the final conclusions.

Sociolinguistic competence

Sociolinguistic competence is the ability that an individual has to communicate, whatever the situation, through linguistic expressions. It should be noted that sociolinguistic competence will depend on elements that are inherent to the participants, such as the attitude of the person, what their objective is or how the relationship with their interlocutor is, but also on others outside of them, such as the customs and norms of the person. place where the communication process takes place .

Sociolinguistic context

When we talk about the sociolinguistic context, in reality, we are talking about all those circumstances that surround the communicative process , that is, what is the meaning of the message, where it takes place, how it is carried out, at what time, among others.

Sociolinguistic language

In sociolinguistics, when we speak of sociolinguistic language, we speak of that language that is related to the society and culture in which it is used.

Sociolinguistic variation

It refers to the possibility of changing one expression in a sentence for another for social or linguistic reasons without affecting its meaning. An example of this is when the intervocalic / d / is omitted in certain regions or contexts. Thus the expression “I have finished eating” would be said “I have just eaten” and as you can see the meaning does not change.


Here are the main authors or representatives of sociolinguistics:


  • William Labov.
  • Charles A. Ferguson.

Spanish-speaking representatives:

  • Humberto López Morales.
  • Francisco Moreno Fernández.
  • Carmen Silva-Corvalán.
  • Pedro Martín Butragueño.


  • Joshua Fishman.
  • Dell Hymes.
  • Basil Bernstein.


Here are some sociolinguistic examples :

  • In all regions of the world, young people tend to develop their own jargon which, once they enter the world of work, is not very well regarded.
  • In the specific case of Argentina, the slang known as lunfardo may be inappropriate in certain contexts.
  • Another example is that the less affluent people tend to speak in a colloquial way, while the wealthy classes speak in a more formal way.
  • In professional contexts, frequent use is made of technical or specialized terms.
  • In rural areas there are many terms such as “aguarradillas”  ( fairly fine rain ) that are not usually used in urban areas.


Some prominent books on sociolinguistics are:

  • Principles of sociolinguistics and sociology of language , Francisco Moreno Fernández.
  • Andalusian Sociolinguistics , Pedro Carbonero Cano.
  • Sociolinguistics of Spanish , José Luis Blas Arroyo.
  • Sociolinguistics of the Catalan language , Emili Boix i Fuster and Francesc-Xa Vila i Moreno.

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