Summer 2023 - LING 160 D100

Language, Culture and Society (3)

Class Number: 1434

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 8 – Aug 4, 2023: Mon, 2:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Ivelina Koleva Tchizmarova
    RCB 9212



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 explores language as a social phenomenon constantly being changed by the people who use it (users) as they communicate in different settings (uses), navigating multiple factors such as power relationships, solidarity and social distance among participants. Users continuously change sounds, vocabulary, and grammar over time (e.g., the English of the Middle Ages vs. Modern English today), and various speech communities of the same language use it unique ways (e.g. Vancouver English is distinct from the English spoken in London, UK, and Standard Canadian English is distinct from both Newfoundland English and Black Canadian English.  Within each context, speakers use language in ways that reflect their own cultural identities, backgrounds, beliefs, practices, and values.

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?).


PLATFORM(s) USED: Canvas & Zoom.

TECH REQUIRED:  Laptop, Internet.


  • Exams (3 midterm exams worth 17% each; no final exam) 54%
  • Group Projects (2 asynch Group Projects worth 13% each) 26%
  • Short Assignments (2 asynch short assignments worth 5% each) 10%
  • Weekly Attendance & Participation 10%


Exams, projects, and assignments may require data collection, and online research, etc.

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.

It is strongly recommended that you see the Student Advisor regarding your degree requirements at least two semesters before you plan to graduate. Unless you meet both faculty and major/minor requirements, your graduation cannot be approved.

Students requiring accommodations as a result of a disability, must contact the Centre for Accessible Learning (, 778-782-3112) 



Holmes, Janet, and Wilson, Nick (2022). An Introduction to Sociolinguistics (6th revised ed.) Routledge. ISBN:  9780367421106 [Alternatively, (2017), 5th Ed.  ISBN:  9781138845015].

Be sure to obtain one of the correct editions above.  Older editions will not be used!

Additional materials, e.g., chapters on reserve in the SFU library and article downloads from the library, highlighting sociolinguistic issues in Canada.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at:

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.


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.