METHODS OF SOCIOLINGUISTICS - Sociolinguistics

METHODS OF SOCIOLINGUISTICS

Sociolinguistics is a relatively young science. She has not yet had time to develop her own methods of studying the language that are inherent only in her. But in view of the fact that it arose at the intersection of two sciences - sociology and linguistics, representatives of a new field of knowledge tried to perceive all the best that is characteristic of the methodology and technique of research in both "nourishing" All sciences.

Q. A. Zvegiytsev even wrote about "methodical omnivorousness" sociolinguistics and in this connection found that the methodical apparatus is "the weakest point here" (Zvegiytsev, 1982, pp. 255). However, such omnivorousness (as seems to be largely exaggerated by VA Zvegintsev) also has its own explanations: firstly, as any young branch of knowledge, sociolinguistics quite naturally follows the path of selecting methodical techniques from what already exists in others sciences; secondly, a wide range of methods corresponds to a sufficiently large range of various problems that fall within the competence of sociolinguistics. In this regard, it should be noted that recently in sociolinguistics two interrelated processes have been observed: the development of one's own conceptual and methodological apparatus and the specification of the subject area, the rejection of a too broad interpretation of the problems of sociolinguistics (the latter is characteristic, for example, of the concept of American sociolinguist D. Hymes) .

Perhaps it's too early to talk about the special methods used to create sociolinguistic theories - here sociolinguistics is limited to general scientific methods. The methodological features of sociolinguistics are embodied in her empirical studies. While collecting specific information, sociolinguistics relies heavily on the methodological experience of sociology and social psychology, but the methods of these sciences receive here or other modifications with reference to the tasks that are solved by this linguistic discipline. So, since many types of sociolinguistic works are connected with the collection and analysis of mass material (only on the basis of a large number of facts, one can judge how the language is used by social groups, rather than individuals), sociolinguistics uses methodical techniques that have long been used by sociologists: oral survey, questionnaire , interviews, etc., which undergo changes in accordance with the specifics of sociolinguistic analysis.

At present, we can talk about a certain set of research methods that sociolinguistics enjoys. In general, methods,

specific to sociolinguistics as a linguistic discipline, can be divided into three groups: methods of collecting material, methods of its processing and methods for assessing the reliability of the data obtained.

The first group is dominated by methods borrowed from sociology, social psychology and partly from dialectology, in the second and third - a significant place is occupied by methods of mathematical statistics. There is also a specificity in the presentation of sociolinguistic materials. In addition, the material received, processed and evaluated using statistical criteria needs a sociolinguistic interpretation, which allows us to identify the logical links between the language and social institutions.

An important feature of sociolinguistics is the need to refine the methodological details for each specific task. Since sociolinguist often has to deal with a large number of informants, preliminary abstract modeling of the survey situation can not predict all the difficulties that can arise from direct contact with informants. In order to identify all the complicating factors and minimize their impact on the results of the study, preliminary pilot studies are usually conducted, during which the validity of the known methodical procedures for the particular situation is checked.

When collecting information, sociolinguists often resort to observation and interviews: the general scientific method of analyzing written sources is also widely used. Of course, often these methods are combined: after a preliminary analysis of written sources, the researcher formulates a hypothesis that he checks in the course of observation; to verify the collected data, he can resort to a survey of a certain part of the social community of interest to him. At the very beginning of sociolinguistic research, the researcher faces the problem of choosing those specific individuals whose linguistic behavior is supposed to build hypotheses and test them.

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