Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Critical reflections on the role of the sociolinguist in UK language debates

  • Julia Snell (a1)
Extract

Mark Lewis invites us to reconsider the theory of social change that underpins Labov's principle of error correction (PEC), which assumes that change will occur when researchers share their (privileged) linguistic knowledge with the wider public. This is a welcome invitation, for it opens up space for critical reflection on the role sociolinguists can play in public debates about language. As my use of the term critical suggests, I align with Lewis’ position that we must relinquish Labov's (1982) quest for ‘objectivity’ in favour of critical reflexivity. This involves interrogating our own positioning, interests and investments, the nature of the knowledge we produce, and how this relates to other sources of knowledge and opinion. In this spirit, I reflect on my own experiences as a sociolinguist who has made relatively modest attempts to intervene in UK debates about language, with questionable success. In doing so, I take up Lewis’ call to incorporate a language ideological analysis into social-change efforts and to refocus attention on the material and institutional aspects of inequality.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Critical reflections on the role of the sociolinguist in UK language debates
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Critical reflections on the role of the sociolinguist in UK language debates
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Critical reflections on the role of the sociolinguist in UK language debates
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Julia Snell, School of English, University of Leeds, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK J.Snell@leeds.ac.uk
Footnotes
Hide All
*

Thanks to Tony Crowley and Emma Moore for reading and commenting on a draft of this response.

Footnotes
References
Hide All
Alexander, Robin (2017). Developing dialogic teaching: Process, trial, outcomes. Paper presented at the 17th Biennial EARLI Conference, Tampere, Finland, 31 August 2017.
Block, David (2014). Social class in applied linguistics. London: Routledge.
Blommaert, Jan (1999). The debate is open. In Blommaert, Jan (ed.), Language ideological debates, 138. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Bourdieu, Pierre (1977). The economics of linguistic exchanges. Social Science Information 16(6):645–68.
Cheshire, Jenny (1982). Dialect features and linguistic conflict in schools. Educational Review 34:5367.
Cheshire, Jenny (2005). Sociolinguistics and mother-tongue education. In Ammon, Ulrich, Dittmar, Norbert, Mattheier, Klaus J., & Trudgill, Peter (eds.), Sociolinguistics: An introductory handbook of the science of language and society, 2341–50. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Coupland, Nikolas (2000). Sociolinguistic prevarication about ‘standard English’. Journal of Sociolinguistics 4(4):622–34.
Crowley, Tony (2003). Standard English and the politics of language. 2nd edn. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.
Flores, Nelson, & Rosa, Jonathan (2015). Undoing appropriateness: Raciolinguistic ideologies and language diversity in education. Harvard Educational Review 85(2):149–71.
Fricker, Martin (2013). Yow cor spaek lyuke that! West Midlands school bans pupils from using ‘damaging’ regional slang. The Mirror, 14th November 2013. Online: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/black-country-slang-banned-halesowen-2791066#ixzz2lIml1tTN; accessed 1 December 2017.
Gal, Susan (2016). Labov in anthropology. Journal of Sociolinguistics 20(4):453–63.
Godley, Amanda J.; Carpenter;, Brian D. & Werner, Cynthia A. (2007). ‘I'll speak in proper slang’: Language ideologies in a daily editing activity. Reading Research Quarterly 42:100131.
Irvine, Judith T., & Gal, Susan (2000). Language ideology and linguistic differentiation. In Kroskrity, Paul V. (ed.), Regimes of language: Ideologies, polities, and identities, 3584. Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press.
Johnson, Ruth (2015). Policy, practice and assessment: Revealing the relationship between the GCSE English assessment and educational reproduction. Manchester: University of Manchester dissertation.
Labov, William (1982). Objectivity and commitment in linguistic science: The case of the Black English trial in Ann Arbor. Language in Society 11(2):165201.
Lefstein, Adam, & Snell, Julia (2014). Better than best practice: Developing teaching and learning through dialogue. London: Routledge.
Milroy, James (1999). The consequences of standardisation in descriptive linguistics. In Bex, Tony & Watts, Richard J. (eds.), Standard English: The widening debate, 1639. Abingdon: Routledge.
Pietikäinen, Sari (2016). Critical debates: Discourse, boundaries and social change. In Coupland, Nikolas (ed.), Sociolinguistics: Theoretical debates, 263281. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Rampton, Ben; Maybin, Janet; & Roberts, Celia (2015). Theory and method in linguistic ethnography. In Snell, Julia, Shaw, Sara, & Copland, Fiona (eds.), Linguistic ethnography: Interdisciplinary explorations, 1450. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Renaud-Komiya, Nick (2013). London school bans ‘urban’ slang words. The Independent, 15 October 2013. Online: www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/london-school-bans-urban-slang-words-8881509.html; accessed 1 December 2017.
Resnick, Lauren B.; Asterhan, Christa; & Clarke, Sherice (eds.) (2015). Socializing intelligence through academic talk and dialogue. Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association.
Snell, Julia (2013a). Saying no to ‘gizit’ is plain prejudice: A war on dialect will quash curiosity and ideas. The Independent, 10 February 2013. Online: www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/saying-no-to-gizit-is-plain-prejudice-8488358.html; accessed 7 December 2013.
Snell, Julia (2013b). Dialect, interaction and class positioning at school: From deficit to different to repertoire. Language and Education 27(2):110–28.
Trudgill, Peter (1975). Accent, dialect and the school. London: Edward Arnold.
Williams, Olivia (2013). Primary school tells parents to stop children using slang phrases as it is preventing them from learning ‘standard’ English. The Daily Mail, 5 February 2013. Online: www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2273821/Middlesbrough-parents-clamp-local-expressions-home-children-learn-standard-English.html#axzz2KWn3AVOG; accessed 1 December 2017.
Woolard, Kathryn A. (1998). Language ideology as a field of inquiry. In Schieffelin, Bambi B., Woolard, Kathryn, & Kroskrity, Paul V. (eds.), Language ideologies: Practice and theory, 347. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Language in Society
  • ISSN: 0047-4045
  • EISSN: 1469-8013
  • URL: /core/journals/language-in-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed