Sociolinguistics is defined as a study which focuses on the relationship between language and society. Sociolinguistics analyses how social aspects such as gender, ethnicity, age and social class affect a language.
Additionally, the discipline focuses on how a language can differ between different social groups due to their beliefs and traditions.
The discipline is divided into two main branches, interactionist and variationist sociolinguistics, which approach the topic in different ways.
Interactionist sociolinguistics focuses on the use of a language and how this outlines different social processes. Variationist sociolinguistics concentrates on dialects social variations and examines the structure of these changes.
As well as this, sociolinguistics includes sub-areas which are anthropological linguistics, dialectology, discourse analysis, ethnography of speaking, the psychology of language, the sociology of language and geolinguistics.
Anthropological linguistics focuses on how a language influences people's social life. In addition, it describes the language’s role in making and maintaining cultural practices and social structures.
Dialectology is the study of dialects and focuses on how people’s location affects the way individuals speak. Dialectology concentrates mostly on grammatical, lexical and phonological aspects.
Discourse analysis, known also as discourse studies, is defined as a discipline which analyses both written and vocal languages. A method which belongs to this process is the ethnography of speaking. This methodology consists of analysing the communication of people within a social and cultural context.
The psychology of language focuses on the human psychological and neurobiological aspects which allow people to acquire, understand and use a language.
The sociology of language, instead, concentrates on the relations between language and society.
Finally, geolinguistics is the discipline which analyses the implications that a geographical location brings to languages within a temporal framework.
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