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Review of  Sociolinguistics / Soziolinguistik Vol 3

Reviewer: Katharina Barbe
Book Title: Sociolinguistics / Soziolinguistik Vol 3
Book Author: Ulrich Ammon Norbert Dittmar
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics
Issue Number: 19.1356

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EDITORS: Ammon, Ulrich; Dittmar, Norbert; Mattheier, Klaus J.; Trudgill, Peter
TITLE: Sociolinguistics / Soziolinguistik
SUBTITLE: An International Handbook of the Science of Language and Society / Ein
internationales Handbuch zur Wissenschaft von Sprache und Gesellschaft
PUBLISHER: Walter de Gruyter
YEAR: 2006

Katharina Barbe, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Northern
Illinois University, DeKalb, IL

This volume is the third part of a thematically organized encyclopedia available
in hard cover as well as electronic format. As the bilingual title in English
and German suggests, the entries are written in either German or English. Each
contribution ends with an informative literature selection that could be a
starting point for readers who desire further information. This second edition
is an updated and expanded version of the first one from 1987, taking account of
the fact that the. ''field has left behind its status as an interdiscipline
between sociology and linguistics and is now a worldwide established field''
( Here, I will
briefly give a thematic overview of the three volumes and will then discuss
Volume 3 in more detail.

In Volume 1, five major topics are covered, each elaborated with several
articles of different lengths. These five headings are: I. The Subject Matter of
Sociolinguistics (1.-13.); II. Basic Sociolinguistic Concepts (14.-41.); III.
Sociological Concepts (42.-61.); IV. The Social Implications of Levels of
Linguistic Analysis (62. -78.); and V. The History of Sociolinguistics (79.-88.).

Volume 2 follows with VI. Neighboring Disciplines (89.-94); VII. Sociolinguistic
Methodology (95.-126.); and VIII. Findings of Sociolinguistic Research (127.-168).

As the final volume of the encyclopedia, Volume 3 presents IX. Regional Overview
(169.-232.); X. Linguistic Change, Sociolinguistic Aspects (219.-232) and,
finally, XI. Application (233.-257.). The volume ends with an Index of Subjects
covering all three volumes. In the following, I will describe the book more
closely by looking in-depth at a few representative entries.

Ian Hancock contributes an English entry about ''Gypsy Languages /
Zigeunersprachen'' (entry number 182, pages 1870-1874), where he first discusses
the category 'gypsy language'. While he concludes that it is a legitimate term,
because no other label exists for the language groups originating in India, he
also recognizes that the term gypsy has often been romanticized. The romantic
notion of the gypsy refers more to an imaginary ideal than a real homogeneous
ethnic people. Actually, there are numerous different names for Middle Eastern
gypsy groups. These groups have in common that they are migrants, so the
commonality appears to be on the basis of behavior rather than ethnicity.
Hancock notices that there is a scarcity of pertinent linguistic material. While
there are lexical items the languages have in common, these could have been
acquired through contact

Nikolas Coupland and Virpi Ylänne's contribution in English ''The
Sociolinguistics of Ageing / Soziolinguistik des Alterns'' (entry number 235,
pages 2334-2340) is divided into five parts: 1. Social ageing and
sociolinguistics, 2. Ageing and patronizing talk, 3. Discourse analytic studies
of ageing, 4. Towards a sociolinguistics of ageism, and 5. Literature
(selected). Sociolinguistics has until recently not dealt with social ageing.
But for sociolinguistics to remain relevant gerontological issues need to be
recognized and researched. There are two approaches, cohort shift and age
grading, which are found to be inadequate. ''Sociolinguistics needs to develop a
more open programme of research into social ageing'' (2337). When a
discourse-based approach to ageing is chosen, it is based on the notion that age
is ''socially negotiable'' (ibid.). So far the focus of sociolinguistics has been
on class, race, and gender; however, ageing should not be neglected, especially
because the ''social implications for youth-fetished societies which define one
third of their own adult population as 'elderly' are considerable'' (2339).

Helga Bister-Broosen's German contribution ''Soziolinguistik und
Fremdsprachenunterricht / Sociolinguistics and Foreign Language Teaching'' (entry
number 239, pages 2376-2383) discusses the importance of sociolinguistics as a
factor in Foreign Language Teaching and Acquisition. The focus here is on
learning a foreign language outside of the target culture within an
institutional setting. Bister-Broosen's contribution broadly contains a survey
of the development of methods and models in Foreign Language Teaching as well as
influences of sociolinguistic research on Foreign Language Teaching. Researchers
had set aside Chomsky's model of a homogeneous speaker-hearer as not useable for
language acquisition and found the idea of a development of a communicative
competence based on authentic language usage more useful (Dell Hymes 1972 ''On
Communicative Competence''). It is difficult overall to delineate exactly which
sociolinguistic theory and to what extent it influenced the directions and
research areas of Foreign Language Teaching. However, it has become clear that
the communicative needs of the learners have to be not only the focus but also
the starting point of research. Her entry ends with a literature survey in
selection (unfortunately, the newest publication is from 1998, fully eight years
before publication of the volume's second edition; this entry should have been

Overall, I found the handbook to be very useful for colleagues in the field of
linguistics. Some articles go in-depth and thus provide an excellent starting
point for the interested researcher. This is not a handbook for linguistic
novices, since the authors generally presuppose a knowledgeable reader. In order
to benefit fully from the handbook, a reading knowledge of both German and
English is a necessity (even though in volume 3 only 20 of the 88 articles are
in German). The price of the volume, $545.00, probably puts it out of reach for
most individuals; however, every university library should have this important
resource available in book or in electronic form.

Katharina Barbe (Ph.D., Rice University) is an Associate Professor and Assistant
Chair in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Northern
Illinois University. She has published _Irony in Context_ (1995, John Benjamins)
and articles in various journals. Currently she is working on a project
tentatively entitled ''Language-related editorials in the DAZ (1933-1945)'' as
well as on translation evaluations of the English and Spanish versions of
Klemperer's _LTI_.

Format: Hardback
ISBN: 3110184184
ISBN-13: N/A
Pages: 876
Prices: U.S. $ 496.80