The speech community as a social fact
Marrying Durkheim’s definition of the social fact (1895) with Gumperz’ classic framework for studying the speech community (1968), the paper argues that these concepts are crucial to the 21st century sociolinguistic enterprise. It explores the basic dimensions of variation across speech communities, illustrating their applicability to communities of several different types. These include monolingual communities where speakers have a common base in linguistic structure as well as complex multilingual communities with internal social divisions. Illustrations are drawn from the author’s research in French Canada and Papua New Guinea, and from Blanc’s (1964) study of Baghdad. Finally, the study of multilingual speech communities is linked to the understanding of how superposed linguistic knowledge is integrated across the lifespans of individual speakers and across communal groups. Even in such situations, members who do not share a language seek to communicate with each other, finding ways of doing so that respond to social opportunities and circumvent social barriers.
Published online: 18 May 2015
Blondeau, Hélène, & Nagy, Naomi
Friesner, Michael L.
(2009) The social and linguistic predictors of the outcomes of borrowing in the speech community of Montréal. Doctoral dissertation, University of Pennsylvania.
Gouvernement du Québec
n.d.). Charter of the French language [English version]. Retrieved August 14, 2014, from http://www2.publicationsduquebec.gouv.qc.ca/dynamicSearch/telecharge.php?type=2&file=/C_11/C11_A.html
Gumperz, John. J.
Hooley, Bruce A.
Klein, Wolfgang, & Norbert Dittmar
Meisel, Jürgen M.
Nagy, Naomi, Moisset, Christine, & Sankoff, Gillian
Pfaff, Carol W.
Poplack, Shana, & Dion, Nathalie
Sankoff, David, & Sankoff, Gillian
Sankoff, David, & Thibault, Pierrette
(1968) Social aspects of multilingualism in New Guinea. Doctoral dissertation, McGill University.
Sankoff, Gillian, & Hélène Blondeau
Sankoff, Gillian, & Cedergren, Henrietta J.
Sankoff, Gillian, Cedergren, Henrietta J., Thibault, Pierrette, & Blondeau, Hélène
Thibault, Pierrette, & Vincent, Diane
Vincent, Diane, Laforest, Marty, & Martel, Guylaine
Wagner, Suzanne Evans, & Sankoff, Gillian
Cited by 1 other publications
Khanina, Olesya & Miriam Meyerhoff
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