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Share Paper 1521

Three Approaches to Finding the Social in the Linguistic
Richard Cameron
1-22 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


Diversity of agendas in contemporary sociolinguistics makes it difficult to define the field. It may be more useful to define what the 'socio-' in sociolinguistics means as well as to identify how sociolinguists identify the presence of social facts within a linguistic analysis. Here, the 'socio-' in sociolinguistics is defined as acts or actions requiring two people or one person acting as two, identities, and/or ideologies, all of which require analysis of language use for their description and explanation. Sociolinguists utilize three fundamental approaches termed the Indexicality Approach, the Constraint Approach, and the Discursive Construction Approach. Each involves a positioning of the social with respect to the linguistic or the linguistic with respect to the social. Illustrations of each are provided. The Indexicality Approach is applied to terms of address and summons from a Puerto Rican Pentecostal church. The Constraint Approach is illustrated via a variationist study of one variable in Puerto Rican Spanish at the intersection of Age and Gender. Finally, one short backstage complaint in English by a nurse about a problematic patient provides data for an analysis within the Discursive Construction Approach to finding the social in the linguistic.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics
edited by Jonathan Holmquist, Augusto Lorenzino, and Lotfi Sayahi
Table of contents
Printed edition: $180.00