APLN  5331- 01, Sociolinguistics


Sociolinguistic book cover


Course description

This course deals with the main theoretical and empirical issues in sociolinguistics. The course will concentrate on sociolinguistic issues that include: language variation and change, language contact, gender, politeness, bilingualism, code-switching, diglossia, and language, and the media.  Throughout this course, the theoretical issues discussed will be implemented by case studies; problems in the field will also be highlighted and solutions proposed.

The class structure is flexible depending on what the professor finds appropriate in different contexts.  A tentative structure is:

Class presentations

Feedback from Professor and additional information

Group work and brainstorming questions about the topic.

Feedback and discussion

Course objectives

This course aims to introduce students to the field of sociolinguistics and familiarise students with methods and terminology that are essential for further studies. Upon successful completion of the course, students should be able to demonstrate solid knowledge of sociolinguistics, identify problems in the field, and possibly propose solutions. 

Course requirements

This class is student-based.  Since this is a graduate course students are expected to prepare their material at home. They are also expected to attend regularly, to participate in class discussions, to do all assignments, home works, and exams. Students in this course will be required to demonstrate the knowledge they have acquired of the field in both written and oral form, and are expected to be innovative enough to relate problems in the field and propose solutions.

Students are expected to be independent and resourceful.

Your participation is the only indicator that you read carefully and critically. Every effort will be made to ensure that the atmosphere in the class is welcoming and encouraging so that everybody can share their ideas and be respected. It is important that you pay attention and are engaged in class by asking questions and expressing your point of view. The students will use readings suggested by the instructor but are encouraged to consult additional sources.

Though office hours are available, you should seek clarification on any issue during class time so that others benefit from the discussions.  However, feel free to drop by during my office hours or to schedule an appointment if you cannot make it on the days assigned.

Students who miss classes because of emergencies are responsible for covering and finding out about the material they missed.


Absence policy:

"A student who misses more than the equivalent of three weeks of class meetings during a semester for any reason may be assigned a reduced grade for the course — including the grade of “F” — solely on the basis of inadequate attendance, regardless of excuse... Students who miss fewer than three weeks of class sessions may not be penalized on the grounds of attendance alone... Students are personally responsible for making up any academic tasks and assignments missed due to their absence."



Main textbooks:

Meyerhoff, M (2011) Introducing Sociolinguistics. Abingdon: Routledge.

Print: http://lib.aucegypt.edu/record=b1846956~S2

BASSIOUNEY R (2009) Arabic Sociolinguistics. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.

E-BOOK: http://lib.aucegypt.edu/record=b2058088~S2

Holmes J and Hazen K (2014) Research Methods in Sociolinguistics. Wiley Blackwell. UK

Other books:

  • Bassiouney R and Katz G (2012) Arabic Language and Linguistics. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.

E-BOOK: http://lib.aucegypt.edu/record=b1980917~S2

  • BASSIOUNEY R (2010) Arabic and the Media: Linguistic Analyses and Applications. Leiden: Brill.

E-BOOK:  http://lib.aucegypt.edu/record=b2069223~S2

  • BASSIOUNEY R (2005) Functions of Code-Switching in Egypt : Evidence from Monologues. Leiden:

Print: Brill. http://lib.aucegypt.edu/record=b1364767

  • HAERI N (1996) The Sociolinguistic Market of Cairo : Gender, Class, and Education. London: Kegan Paul International.

Print: http://lib.aucegypt.edu/record=b1226338~S2



Kharraki, A. (2001), ‘Moroccan sex-based linguistic difference in bargaining’, Discourse and Society 12: 615–32.

Walters K (1996), ‘Gender, identity, and the political economy of language: Anglophone wives in Tunisia’, Language in Society 25(4): 515–55.

JSTOR: http://0-www.jstor.org.lib.aucegypt.edu/stable/4168737


Please note the following:

  1. No drafts are accepted or corrected.
  2. You are expected to ask questions and clarifications about assignments in class so that any information is shared by all students and fairness is ensured.
  3. No delayed assignments are accepted.
  4. Assignments are in essay form


The following table describes the class assignments, grading weights and due dates:




Due Date

1) Discuss methods and theories of studying language variation with examples. Consult three references



2) Analysis of variation assignment/exam Consult 3 references

20 %


3) Research paper: choose one topic to do research: consult 6 references

1- Relate sociolinguistics to language teaching with empirical data

2- Choose an aspect of sociolinguistics to conduct research using the methods and definitions you already worked on for the other assignments



4) Presentations and participation

30 %



Late Assignments

To be fair to students who submit their work on time, all assignments must be turned in on the due date specified (see above). I do not accept late assignments. Exceptions will be made ONLY in the most compelling circumstances, by prior arrangement with me.



Learning outcomes and assignments:

  1. Demonstrate the ability to critically read and understand research in applied linguistics, both quantitative and qualitative: all Assignments, presentations and summaries
  2. Demonstrate competence in writing research papers: Assignment 1, 2, and 3
  3. Demonstrate mastery of the skills necessary to read critically, synthesize information: All class assignments.


Policy on Academic Integrity and Policy on Attendance


You are required to uphold academic integrity in all aspects of this course.

University policies on academic integrity apply fully:


Students are expected to attend all classes and arrive to class on time. Frequent tardiness will result in it being counted as an absence.

Students who are absent are responsible for making up their work. They should find out what they missed and what they need to prepare for the following class. If students miss a class due to illness, they need to provide valid documentation from an AUC physician. If students miss a class due to a serious or unavoidable emergency, they should contact their instructor.

For learning to be effective, it is important that students budget their time carefully. Students must respect deadlines and hand in their work on time. Students who submit late assignments run the risk of losing marks and/or not having their work counted/graded.

Note that this is a tentative schedule and the professor can change it when seen fit or necessary. 


Tentative course outline



Assigned readings


Week 1


What is sociolinguistics?

Chapter 1


Week 2




Bassiouney 2009 Chapter 1

Week 3


Variation and change


social networks and communities of practice


Bassiouney 2009 chapter 3


Chapter 9: bonus reading



Week 4



Language attitude

Ideology/ Assignment one due

Chapter 4

Walters article (provided by teacher)

Chapter 16 Routledge companion.



Week 5




Gender and politeness

Politeness as a social variable

Bassiouney 2009 ch. 4 128-137

(Chapter 10 bonus)

Walters K (1996), ‘Gender, identity, and the political economy of language: Anglophone wives in Tunisia’, Language in Society 25(4): 515–55.

Bassiouney 2009 ch 4 138-193

(Kharraki, A. (2001), ‘Moroccan sex-based linguistic difference in bargaining’, Discourse and Society 12: 615–32.

Chapter 5) bonus reading


Week 6





Bassiouney 2009 ch.2



Week 7




Discussion of research

Assignment/exam two due

Chapter 11 Routledge companion.


Week 8



Online session



Week 9



Overview of research methods in sociolinguistics

Chapters 11/12  Research methods 2014


Week 10



Sociolinguistics and education


Bassiouney 2009 Ch. 5 198-236

Bassiouney 2009 ch.5 236-272



Week 11



Language policy


20 Routledge companion. 



Week 12






17 Routledge companion

Computer-mediated communication: Androutsopoulos: 2014


Week 13


Language contact

Language and identity /

Chapter 11


Research methods book 19


Week 14


New trends

To be decided.


Week 15