Language: the Social Mirror

  • AUTHOR: Elaine Chaika
  • ISBN-13: 9781424004324 
  • 448 Pages  Paperback 
  • 4th Edition  |  Previous Editions: 1994, 1988
  • ©2008     Published
  • List Price = $ 81.95 | College Wholesale (Net) Price $61.25
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About The Product

Language: The Social Mirror focuses on the ways language is used and how this use affects the individual as well as society. Thoroughly revised, the fourth edition presents a modern study of sociolinguistics through updated case studies and current research findings. Elaine Chaika gives a detailed explanation of the complexity of language and its uses. She also explores some of the most controversial issues surrounding social language including dialects, bilingualism, and gender.


  • An engaging narrative style that promotes critical thinking.
  • Updated information based on current developments in linguistic research.
  • End-of-chapter exercises that provide opportunities to further develop understanding of the ideas presented.
  • Introductory language making information accessible for those without a linguistic background.

About the Contributor

  • Elaine Chaika

Table of Contents

1. What is Language?
The Complexity of Language. The Levels of Language. The Arbitrary Nature of Language. Language and Thought. First-Language Acquisition. Notes. Exercises.

2. Field Methods
Recipes for Discovery. Sociolinguistics and Field Methods. Ethics. Notes. Exercises.

3. Style of Speech
Style as Communication. Greetings. Address Forms. Style and Interaction. The Elements of Style. Marked and Unmarked Values in Style. Phonetic, Lexical and Syntactic Alternants. Power and Solidarity. Universal Politeness. Negative and Positive Face. Notes. Exercises.

4. Kinesics: The Silent Language
Body Language. Proxemics. Eye Contact. Touching. Amount of Talking. Body Motion in Concert. Problems in Research in Paralinguistics. Notes. Exercises.

5. Pragmatics and Conversation
Doing things with words. Speech Acts and Discourse Routines. Frames. Speech Events and Genres. Intention. Conversation. The Ethnography of Communication. Silence. Ritual Nature of Conversation. Jargons. Notes. Exercises.

6. Orality and Literacy
Verbal Skill. Literacy. The Uses of Spelling. Communicating by Computer. Verbal Play. Speech Activities and Social Pressures. Ego-Boosting in Speech Activities. Notes. Exercises.

7. Everybody Speaks a Dialect
Language versus Dialect. Traditional regional Dialect Studies. The Myth of the General American. Dialect Differences. Black Ethnic Speech. Development of an American Standard. Notes. Exercises.

8. Bilingualism: Individual and Social
Monolingualism and bilingualism. Different Language, Different Mind? Language and Thought. Bilingualism Across Generations. Official Languages. Notes. Exercises.

9. Speech Communities
What Constitutes a Speech Community. Different Dialects, Same Region. Network Theory. The Value of a Sociolinguistic Survey. Diglossia. Language Choice and Social Bonding. The Origins of American Dialects. Notes. Exercises.

10. Vocabulary and Gender
Vocabulary as a Mirror of Social Realities. Gender and Language. Language as Mirror. Notes. Exercises.

11. Sociolinguistics and the Professions
Applications of Sociolinguistics. Language and Medicine. Psychotherapy. Language and the Law. Discourse Practices and Education. Dialects and Reading. Applications to Bilingual Education. Language and Religion. Notes. Exercises.