Language and Society

Language and Society

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This thoroughly revised and updated edition of Downes' textbook is an accessible introduction to the social aspects of language and their various explanations. Topics covered include domains of language use, language change, code-switching, speech as social action, and the nature of meaning and understanding. This second edition includes an analysis of language standardisation, language conflict and more

Product details

  • Online resource
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Revised
  • 2nd Revised edition
  • 6 b/w illus. 9 maps 15 tables
  • 1139163787
  • 9781139163781

Review quote

'Downes's Language and Society is the clearest and most reliable introduction to the field of sociolinguistics available today.' William Labov 'Of textbooks on the market, Downes's is arguably the best, providing the most thorough overview of the subject.' Language '... a useful and original introduction, one which accomplishes the difficult task of being suitable for both the student of language and the general reader.' Jenny Cheshireshow more

About William Downes

William Downes is currently a Senior Fellow in the School of Language and Communication Studies at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK, and Adjunct Professor of English and Linguistics at Glendon College, York University, Toronto. Educated at Queen's University and the University of Toronto and at University College London, he has taught at York University, Toronto, and in England at the London School of Economics and the University of East Anglia. He has been a Northrop Frye Fellow at Victoria College and Senior Resident at Massey College, University of Toronto. His most recent book Language and Religion: A Journey into the Human Mind was published in 2011 by Cambridge University Press. Committed to interdisciplinarity - he has bridged the human sciences, linguistics, and the humanities, literature, philosophy, history and politics - he believes that the concept of the 'two cultures' is an over-simple and problematical notion within the overall philosophy and history of disciplined inquiry. His long term research programme has been the use of the science of linguistics, broadly understood to include cognition and communication, as a method for the study of cultural representations in social context in a way sensitive to issues in philosophy and politics and the other humanities. This is a study of the nature of the representation of information in all its forms; in cognition or the mind-brain, in behaviour, in language in all its varieties and contexts, in history, literature, music, art and more

Table of contents

Acknowledgements; 1. Linguistics and sociolinguistics; 2. A tapestry in space and time; 3. Language varieties: processes and problems; 4. Discovering the structure in variation; 5. Rhoticity; 6. At the intersection of social factors; 7. Change, meaning and acts of identity; 8. The discourse of social life; 9. Communication: words and world; 10. Action and critique; 11. Language and social explanation; Further reading; References; more