Summer 2024 - LING 160 B900

Language, Culture and Society (3)

Class Number: 1476

Delivery Method: Blended


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 6 – Aug 2, 2024: Tue, 12:30–2:20 p.m.



Examines the relationship between language use and social structure. Considers how social factors such as gender, class, age, and ethnicity may be reflected in language use, as well as "big picture" topics that include multilingualism, dialect variation, language policy and linguistic stereotypes. Encourages students to think critically about the social dimensions of language. Open to all students. Breadth-Social Sciences.


This course will introduce you to sociolinguistics, which studies the relationship between social factors, culture, and language. You will learn about sociolinguistic methods through illustrations from a variety of languages, and examine language practices in Canada and in your own speech community as we discuss the following topics:

  • bilingualism and multilingualism in speech communities and the social factors driving language shift, language loss, and language death
  • the systematic, rule-governed nature of regional dialects (e.g., West Coast Canadian & American English, Newfoundland English, Southern US English, Cockney, etc.) and social dialects (e.g., the French of the working class vs. that of the upper middle class in Francophone Montreal);
  • prejudice and discrimination against linguistic varieties (often stemming from similar attitudes towards their users);
  • using language to signal aspects of our social and cultural identity, such as gender (how different genders speak differently?), age (why do teenagers speak differently from adults?), ethnicity (e.g., African American Vernacular English and its global spread as the language of rap, hip hop & non-conformism), social networks (how our typical interactions in typical settings affect our language use);
  • the role of politeness in language use, and how it varies across cultures;
  • the relationship between language and cognition (does a language shape our thinking and perception of the outside world, or the other way around?).

Blended. Students will attend one two-hour meeting in person per week, and will be expected to complete online activities for one additional hour per week (at the student’s convenience).


  • Midterm 1 23%
  • Midterm 2 23%
  • Midterm 3 24%
  • Assignments 20%
  • Participation 10%
  • No Final Exam


This course may be applied towards the Certificate in teaching English as a Second Language. Linguistics program students cannot count this course towards their breadth requirements unless in joint or double majors, extended minor, or double minors program.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning ( or 778-782-3112) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.




Students will need access to a computer or tablet and have internet access in order to complete the required activities.


Holmes, J., and Wilson, N. (2022). An Introduction to Sociolinguistics (6th revised ed.) Taylor & Francis. ISBN: 9780367421106.


Additional reading materials and slides will be made available on Canvas.  

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Students should familiarize themselves with the Department's Standards on Class Management and Student Responsibilities.

Please note that a grade of “FD” (Failed-Dishonesty) may be assigned as a penalty for academic dishonesty.

All student requests for accommodations for their religious practices must be made in writing by the end of the first week of classes or no later than one week after a student adds a course.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university.