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Admission requirements



In this course we will study the ways in which language is used in a social context, as a means to define and maintain social cohesion and diversity. We will learn how speech communities can be defined by different factors, including ethnicity, gender, age and socio-economic class. During the lectures you will be introduced into different quantitative and qulitative research methods used within sociolinguistics. In addition we will look at macro- and microvariation in language, as in the case of varieties like ebonics, the so-called boku/watasi language in Japanese and Valley Girl speech, but also at diglossia and registers in language use. We will study multilingualism, language contact phenomena, folk linguistics and language death, all of this in relation to the languages spoken in Europe and the rest of the world. In the seminars you will discusse the weekly reading as well as the assignments. The course will, finally, offer the opportunity of carrying out some actual empirical analysis in the form of a fieldwork survey among speakers of Dutch on a topical issue within sociolinguistics.

Course objectives

After completion of the course, students will have acquired

  • knowledge of the main current sociolinguistic theories and topics

  • insight into the nature of regional and social variation of language

  • insight into the function of language as an instrument of power

  • knowledge of and insight into the use of different methods for the analysis of verbal and non-verbal language use by speakers of different genders and of different social and ethnic origins and of the use of formal and informal registers in the present and the past

  • some skills in carrying out empirical analysis on a topical issue within sociolinguistics and in reporting on the results of their findings.



Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

  • Seminar

Course Load

Total course load for the course (number of EC x 28 hours): 140 hours.

  • attending weekly lectures and seminars (2 hours per week x 13 weeks) 26 hours

  • exam: 2 hours

  • time for studying the compulsory weekly literature as a means to prepare for the weekly calsses and the exam: 97 hours

  • conducting the fieldwork and writing a report: 15 hours

Assessment method

  • written exam (multiple choice questions) (60%)

  • fieldwork report (30%)

  • weekly contributions to class (10%)
    The resit will comprise the same items.

None of the marks for the above components may be lower than 5.


This course is supported by Blackboard. Blackboard will be used to provide students with an overview of current affairs, as well as specific information about (components of) the course. Please see:

The weekly programme will be available through Blackboard, indicating reading and homework assignments. The fieldwork report will be submitted through Blackboard (SafeAssign or Turnitin), and Blackboard will used to communicate with the students and to post the marks for the course components.

Reading list

Mesthrie, Rajend, Joan Swann, Anna Deumert and William L. Leap (2009), Introducting Sociolinguistics [2nd ed.], Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press


Enrollment through uSis for the course and the examination or paper is mandatory.


Coordinator of Studies


Students should have a copy of the book from week 1 onwards.