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Language, Power & Identity


Deze informatie is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Admission requirements:

This course is an (extracurricular) Honours Class: an elective course within the Honours College programme. Third year students who don’t participate in the Honours College, have the opportunity to apply for a Bachelor Honours Class. Students will be selected based on i.a. their motivation and average grade.

Key words:

Skills: research, academic writing, fieldwork methods.

Topics: language, ethnicity, gender, religion.

Disciplines: sociolinguistics.


What is the difference between a language and a dialect, and who decides? Should every nation have its own unique language? What are minority language “rights”? Why are some languages linked to certain religions?

Why do certain forms of language play a central role in the ways we think about ourselves and identify others? Language is an essential part of our identity, and connects us with other members of various groups in society: ethnic, national, religious, gender, class, etc. Language is not homogenous: “It’s not always what you say, but how you say it.”

This theme examines the complex relationship between speech and society, taking language as the point of departure. Through the use of sociolinguistic methodologies and concepts, students will explore the linkages between language, dialects, identity and society, with special reference to religion, ethnicity, and nationalism.

Course objectives:

Upon successful completion of this course, students have:

  • had a broad introduction into some of the many aspects of Sociolinguistics.

  • aquired analytical skills of analyzing the use of language, and studying the attitudes of people.

  • learned how to put these analytical skills into practice.

Programme and timetable:

  • Sociolinguistic variation (Friday, Nov 8, 13:00-17:00)

  • How many languages do we speak? (Friday, Nov 15, 13:00-17:00)

  • Language & Ethnicity (Friday, Nov 22, 13:00-17:00)

  • Language & Religion (Friday, Nov 29, 13:00-17:00)

  • Language & Gender (Friday, Dec 13, 13:00-17:00)

  • Sociolinguistic Fieldwork (Friday, Dec 20, 13:00-17:00)


Old observatory, Room c004.

Reading list:

Readings will be provided every week. Usually articles or book chapters.

Course load and teaching method:

This course is worth 5 EC, which means the total course load equals 140 hours.

  • Weekly seminar meetings: 6 x 4 hours = 24 hours (attendance is mandatory)

  • Weekly reading assignments: 6 x 6 hours = 36 hours

  • Presentations: 6 x 2 hours of preparation = 12 hours

  • Research for final paper: 22 hours

  • Final paper = 30 hours

Assessment methods:

The assessment method has three components:
1. Every week students will be assigned to discuss parts of the readings in class. These presentation contributes 30% to the final grade.
2. Attendance and in-class participation contribute 10% to the final grade.3. The final paper (3000-5000 words) contributes 60% to the final grade.

A resit is offered in the form of a final paper (5000-7000 words) that replaces all earlier partial grades.

It is not required to successfully complete all partial exams in order to pass this course. Students are allowed to compensate a ‘fail’ (grades up to and including 5.0).


Blackboard will be used in this course. Students can register for the Blackboard page one weeks prior to the start of the course.

Registration process:

Enrolling in this course is possible from Monday the 19th of August up to and including Thursday the 5th of September until 23:59 hrs. The registration link and further information will be posted on the student website of the Honours Academy.

Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for the Bachelor Honours Classes. Your registration will be done centrally after successful completion of the Bachelor Honours Class.


Dr. Marijn van Putten,