According to Labov (1972: 48), some thought should be given to differences between sociolinguistics and sociology of language. Sociolinguistics aims at the role of
57 language in a social life and interdependency between changes and socio-cultural phenomena. The following are the features of sociolinguistics:
* it describes mutual relations between language and society,
* it presents the relation between language and social life (ceremonies, salutations, gender, age, social status),
* it shows the influence of changes in languages on cognitive processes of people who use a particular language,
* it verifies various dimensions of using languages in different social situations,
* the most crucial for sociolinguists are changes in languages and in styles,
* style is often determined by social patterns and is often associated with sociolect.
Sociology of language, however, aims at society which is perceived as a more important and wider category than language due to the fact that it functions as a context in which all language changes are analyzed and verified (Rogalski 2011: 48). Thus, sociology of language describes:
* changes in languages,
* people’s reaction for these particular changes,
* people’s opinions about these changes and the way they express their reactions for them.
For example, most students at French-Canadian universities are against introducing the English language in Quebec. Some nationalists in Wales destroy English signs which are put along the road, whereas most Irish people fight for a bigger support for the development of the Irish language from the government. In some languages, in order to maintain their functions of being officially used by most people, new vocabulary is
58 introduced and some grammatical rules are improved. Thanks to that, society can be proud of having their own languages which might be forgotten in few years’ time.
However, there are still some nations which do not feel any connections with their languages and by neglecting them, sooner or later those languages will disappear.
Fishman (1980: 225) distinguishes two types of sociolinguistics:
1. descriptive sociolinguistics which describes commonly accepted social rules which have an influence on who speaks (or writes), to whom, when, what for, and with which type of language (or its variety)?
2. dynamic sociolinguistics which is trying to solve out the problem concerning reasons for rapid changes in language structures and development within a particular period of time.
Constant changes in languages and their development are the reasons which contribute to the appearance of dialects which focus on different aspects of a language (e.g. grammar, pronunciation), and sociolects which are strictly connected with various social classes and groups (Trask, 2010:111; Minkowa & Stockwell, 2009: 85). The first class called ‘middle class’ groups people who have only few years of education and perform mostly manual work, and the second one called ‘upper-middle-class’ which groups people who are mostly educated and who possess desks jobs. Nonetheless, one cannot forget about idiolects which function as the official languages used by their speakers in the period of time in which a particular language develops (Edwards, 2011:
Quinlan and Dyson (2008: 185), however, provide us with a totally different phenomenon taken from cognitive psychology. From what they have observed, we use this language which we learnt in our early childhood. We call this language ‘mother tongue’, whereas we call ourselves ‘native speakers’ of this language. Thus, it is interesting to notice that our idiolect can change over time. Even if we are raised in society where we use a particular language, later on it happens that we attend distinct schools, universities, we often change our place of living by moving to another city, and we are exposed to different environments and various groups of people who may have an influence on language which we used to use on a regular basis (Trudgil, 2002: 134).
59 Yet, when talking about the relations between language and society, we cannot forget about a register and a jargon which are also important. A register is connected with using language which is appropriate in a specific context or a situation. Naturally, the priest who says mass will be using only this language which is typical of such religious ceremonies, whereas talking to our boss or a headmaster will require only this type of language which is formal and proper for such types of conversations (Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk, 2002: 134). A jargon, however, which is one of the features of a register is understood as using special and technical vocabulary associated with specific occupations, interests or areas of work. In other words, a jargon is clear for people who are inside a specific group and unclear for outsiders who are not familiar with such specialized terminology. That is why, people who are perceived as outsiders or who are not included in higher-status groups, developed their own style of language which is less formal and more colloquial called ‘slang.’ The main idea is that those people use words or phrases which are not commonly used in everyday conversations by the rest of society. It is typical mainly of adolescents and teenagers who grow up and are exposed to different environments (Jaspaert & Kroon, 1989: 44). It is important to notice that it changes year by year and for instance phrase ‘Jest dobrze’ was replaced by
‘Spoko’ and later on by ‘sztosikowo.’ It shows us that age is another social factor which is responsible for changes in languages (Bergs, 2005: 201).