Fundamental Concepts in Sociolinguistics

By Prof. Om Prakash   |   IIT Madras
Learners enrolled: 276
Language encodes our inherited knowledge and helps us create meaning out of our everyday experiences. Language is instrumental in constructing meaning and defining associations with our world. As a social phenomenon, it shapes every aspect of our lives and binds us together. Language is a rule-governed system that allows us to communicate and socialize. It is a beautiful product of human mind. Understanding the formal properties of language allows us to produce appropriate utterances and understanding functional aspects of language allows us to make sense out of them. Language is used in a socio-cultural context and meanings are derived according to the speaker's situation in the social space. This course takes the learners on a journey where they get an opportunity to discover Language through various socio-cultural contours; such as: Identity, Gender, Social Class, Culture, Dialects, Bilingualism, Multilingualism, Language Variation and Change, Code-mixing and Hybridity, Language Policy and Planning, etc. and so many other concepts. This course underlines the role of language and its centrality in organizing our societies and demonstrates how language engages with such concepts. It does not require any prior knowledge and training and anyone and everyone can join this exploration of locating language within social and cultural spaces.

  • UG/PG students of Linguistics, Sociology, Literature, Mass Communication as Core Paper
  • BE/ME/MS/BSc/MSc/PhD etc. students as Elective Paper
Course Status : Completed
Course Type : Core
Duration : 12 weeks
Category :
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit Points : 3
Level : Undergraduate/Postgraduate
Start Date : 25 Jul 2022
End Date : 14 Oct 2022
Enrollment Ends : 08 Aug 2022
Exam Date : 29 Oct 2022 IST

Note: This exam date is subjected to change based on seat availability. You can check final exam date on your hall ticket.

Page Visits

Course layout

Week 1: Introduction to Fundamental Concepts in Sociolinguistics ; Language as a System ; Design Features ; Linguistic Relativity ; Language and Culture ; Language and Gender
Week 2: Behaviuorist Paradigm in Language Acquisition ; Innateness Hypothesis in Language Acquisition ; Key Concepts in Language Acquisition ; Linguistic Competence ; Communicative Competence ; Critical Period Hypothesis
Week 3: Language and Dialect ; Speech Community ; Diglossia ; Systemic Functions of Language ; The S P E A K I N G Model ; Register and Style
Week 4: Bilingualism-I ; Bilingualism-II ; Code Mixing and Code Switching ; Language Hybridity: The Case of Hindi-English Mixing ; Pidgin and Creole ; Creolization Process and Birth of a New Language ; Mixing and Switching: Creative Outcome of Bi/Multilingual Mind
Week 5: Language Planning ; Types of Language Planning ; Official Language(s) of India ; The Process of Standardization of Language ; Three Language Formula ; The Eighth Schedule
Week 6: Mother Tongue ; Linguistic Diversity of India ; Scheduled and Non-Schedued Languages ; Multilingualism in India ; Language and Education Policy ; English in India
Week 7: Emergence of Sociolinguistics ; Language and Variations ; Labov-Martha Vinyad Study ; Social Stratification of English in New York City ; Observers Paradox and Sociolinguistic Variable ; Dell Hymes and His Work
Week 8: Basil Bernstein and His Work ; John J. Gumperz and His Work ; Joshua Fishman and His Work ; Uriel Weinriech and his work ; Susan Ervin M Tripp and her work ; Charlse A Ferguson and his Work
Week 9: William Bright and his work ; Allen D Grimshaw and his work ; Einar Hugen and his work ; MAK Halliday and His Work ; Significant Studies in Language Variation
Week 10: Indian English ; Multilingual Societies and Multilingual Discourse ; Language Endangerment ; Linguistic Tension and Language Movements ; Language Movements in India
Week 11: Structuralism: Ferdinand de Saussure ; Saussure’s Key Concepts ; 20th Century Theoretical Developments in Linguistics ; Varieties of Language ; Linguistic Landscape
Week 12: Linguistic Allegiance, Identity, and Socialization in Digital Space ; Importance of Culture in Second Language Learning-Teaching ; A Brief Account of Language Teaching Methods ; Recapitulating language acquisition ; Review and Concluding Remarks

Books and references

  • Hudson, R. A. (2011). Sociolinguistics. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press 2nd Edition. 
  • Fasold, Ralph. W. (1990) The Sociolinguistics of Language, Oxford: Blackwell. 
  • Lyons, John (the 15th Edition reprinted 2014) Language and Linguistics: An Introduction, Cambridge University Press.

Instructor bio

Prof. Om Prakash

IIT Madras
Om Prakash teaches courses in the areas of Linguistics, English Language Teaching, and Communication Theories in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Gautam Buddha University. He received his M.A., M.Phil., and PhD in linguistics from University of Delhi, India. He has published in journals of national and international repute. He conducts workshops in language teaching and communication for school teachers. His broader areas of research include emerging fields in Applied Linguistics and an interface of Language, Media and Contemporary Society. He seeks to explore changing forms and functions of language in the context of ever-emerging network society.

Course certificate

The course is free to enroll and learn from. But if you want a certificate, you have to register and write the proctored exam conducted by us in person at any of the designated exam centres.
The exam is optional for a fee of Rs 1000/- (Rupees one thousand only).
Date and Time of Exams: 29 October 2022 Morning session 9am to 12 noon; Afternoon Session 2pm to 5pm.
Registration url: Announcements will be made when the registration form is open for registrations.
The online registration form has to be filled and the certification exam fee needs to be paid. More details will be made available when the exam registration form is published. If there are any changes, it will be mentioned then.
Please check the form for more details on the cities where the exams will be held, the conditions you agree to when you fill the form etc.


Average assignment score = 25% of average of best 8 assignments out of the total 12 assignments given in the course.
Exam score = 75% of the proctored certification exam score out of 100

Final score = Average assignment score + Exam score

YOU WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR A CERTIFICATE ONLY IF AVERAGE ASSIGNMENT SCORE >=10/25 AND EXAM SCORE >= 30/75. If one of the 2 criteria is not met, you will not get the certificate even if the Final score >= 40/100.

Certificate will have your name, photograph and the score in the final exam with the breakup.It will have the logos of NPTEL and IIT Madras .It will be e-verifiable at nptel.ac.in/noc.

Only the e-certificate will be made available. Hard copies will not be dispatched.

Once again, thanks for your interest in our online courses and certification. Happy learning.

- NPTEL team

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