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Introducing Sociolinguistics

Rajend Mesthrie, Joan Swann, Ana Deumert, William Leap

Edition: 2

Hardback i (Printed to Order)

Sociolinguistics is one of the central branches of modern linguistics and deals with the place of language in human societies. This second edition of Introducing Sociolinguistics expertly synthesises the main approaches to the subject. The book covers areas such as multilingualism, code-choice, language variation, dialectology, interactional studies, gender, language contact, language and inequality, and language and power. At the same time it provides an integrated perspective on these themes by examining sociological theories of human interaction. In this regard power and inequality are particularly significant. The book also contains two chapters on the applications of sociolinguistics (in education and in language policy and planning) and a concluding chapter on the sociolinguistics of sign language. New topics covered include speaking style and stylisation, while current debates in areas like creolisation, globalisation and language death, language planning, and gender are reflected.

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1. Clearing the Ground: Basic Issues, Concepts and Approaches
2. Regional Dialectology
3. Social Dialectolog
4. Language Variation and Chang
5. Language Choice and Code-Switching
6. Language in Interactio
7. Gender and Language Use
8. Language Contact 1: Maintenance, Shift and Death
9. Language Contact 2: Pidgins, Creoles and 'New Englishes
10. Critical Sociolinguistics: Approaches to Language and Power
11. Sociolinguistics and Education
12. Language Planning and Policy
13. The Sociolinguistics of Sign Language
Further Reading
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About the Author

Rajend Mesthrie is Professor of Linguistics in the English Department at the University of Cape Town.

Joan Swann is a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Language and Communication in the School of Education at the Open University, UK.

Ana Deumert is Associate Professor in the Linguistics Section, Department of English, University of Cape Town.

William Leap is Professor of Anthropology at the American University, Washington DC.


The book covers all of the main areas of sociolinguistics in a highly accessible and engaging way. It is also clearly written and informative, with up-to-date examples and material. The accessibility and clarity of this volume mean that it is ideal for students new to the subject. At the same time, it is sufficiently detailed and theoretically driven to allow more advanced students to use it as a resource/reference when completing specialised projects or applied assignments. Finally, the real-life examples and practical exercises are both a means of engaging students and an extremely useful teaching/seminar aid.
- Dr Karyn Stapleton, University of Ulster at Jordanstown
This is an excellent book. It is very comprehensive, covering topics which are not covered or are marginalised in 'traditional' sociolinguistics texts.
- Dr Mark Sebba, Lancaster University
This is an excellent book, especially for undergraduate students. The information is presented in a 'digestible' form, and the book isn't as constrained by the more traditional US or UK approaches to sociolinguistics and is therefore more applicable to other cultures.
- Dr Heinz Kreutz, Monash University
This is a fabulous book and I have used it now for two academic years. It is a great compilation of all the classic sociolinguistic studies over the past 40+ years. It is very accessible for students, including the layout, the funny cartoons and the summary sections at the end of each chapter. Students tell me that they like it very much.
- Dr Cathy Finlay, Queen's University Belfast
I'm using your textbook in my undergraduate sociolinguistics course and it's wonderful. It's a pleasure to have a book that not only reads well but has international coverage and an approach that I agree with.
- Professor Penelope Eckert, Stanford University
Such is the quality and richness of this volume that I suspect it too will be an impressive addition to the Edinburgh University Press list... The authors ensure the book is more globally inclusive than many textbooks, with Mesthrie and Deumert bringing a southern hemisphere (African and Australian) sensibility, Joan Swann a European outlook and William Leap an American perspective... An excellent coursebook... distinguished by its expansiveness, its global reach and its wealth of material. It is highly recommended especially for the teacher-researching readership of this journal.
- Peter Stockwell, University of Northampton, Journal of Sociolinguistics
The book provides outstanding coverage of the major dimensions of sociolinguistics. In all cases, core information is presented in a lucid way that makes the textbook perfect for an introductory course. The use of numerous research examples serves to illustrate methodological approaches related to each dimension of sociolinguistics as well as major findings. Furthermore, examples are drawn from sociolinguistic research throughout the world, which makes this a wonderful survey text. Students are provided with rich information about a variety of contexts, deepening their knowledge of language situations worldwide. The numerous figures and maps are also excellent.
- Dr Francis M. Hult, University of Texas at San Antonio

Although it joins a distinguished set of textbooks designed to cover much of the same content published in recent years, IS stands outs as unique from other introductory-level sociolinguistics texts for two reasons. First, it was developed by a team of co-authors currently situated in South Africa, the United States, and the United Kingdom, which means the book tends to focus on discussion and presentation drawn from a broader variety of research perspectives than other texts tend to use. Second, in defining the term sociolinguistics, the authors ultimately draw on a definition that includes aspects of both variationist sociolinguistics and the sociology of language. Although other textbooks typically include one or two chapters dedicated to the sociology of language as a way of attempting to include material drawn from this research paradigm, IS utilizes this expanded definition throughout the text, and this joint perspective makes for a distinctive and novel presentation of the material ... a powerful addition to the available canon, it will prove especially useful to instructors looking for a text with an international focus ... Overall, IS is a wonderful introductory textbook, and one that will be a welcome addition to the syllabi of instructors teaching advanced undergraduate courses in sociolinguistics and the sociology of language.

- David Durian, Ohio State University, Language in Society

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