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Why do men swear more than women? How do speech styles of most Black Americans, and whites growing up in 'Black areas', differ from those of other whites? Does it make sense to defend a language against 'contamination' from foreign words and phrases? Why are languages dying out at a catastrophic rate and what can we do about it? Should Serbo-Croat now be called Serbian, Croatian or even Bosnian? And in what sense, if any, is standard French 'better' than Quebecois or High German 'better' than Schweizerdeutsch?
Such questions illuminate many fascinating aspects of human communication, but they also lie at the heart of fierce political debates about how states should deal with their linguistic minorities, when teachers should correct their pupils' grammar and pronunciation, and whether language promotes racial and sexual stereotypes. Only sociolinguists can provide objective answers: their key conclusions are set out in this celebrated book.
List of Figures, Maps and Tables
1. Sociolinguistics—Language and Society
2. Language and Social Class
3. Language and Ethnic Group
4. Language and Sex
5. Language and Context
6. Language and Social Interaction
7. Language and Nation
8. Language and Geography
9. Language and Humanity
Annotated Bibliography and Further Reading