Sociolinguistics

This essay has a total of 1621 words and 8 pages.

Sociolinguistics


McCall defines sociology of language by explaining "Language plays a central role in
social relations. Not only are the interactions between people explained and understood in
terms of language, but those interactions themselves, more often than not, take on
linguistic form. If a society is seen as the coming together of different categories of
people to appropriate, organize, produce, distribute, subsist, and in some cases, exclude
and oppress other groups, language is central to all these activities."


Knowing all this we see how important language is in every interaction we make with other
people and how important it is to a discipline like sociology. But what exactly does this
mean to sociology? It means several things, it means that new languages will disappear and
be created in a juxtaposition with culture, and that we can tell that a societal
disturbance has occurred by observing a change in language and dialect. McCall uses
Scotland as an example having lost its original language and having it replaced with
"Scottish" an English dialect because the English had conquered them.


McCall's study of the Quebec work place has produced some interesting results. In his
study his objective was to find out how much use of the French language was actually going
on in the workplace, in a social context and a professional context. What he found varied
according to the industry and position within the company itself. McCall describes three
different economic situations that industries workers are in. Textiles, aerospace and
pharmaceuticals are used as examples. When the lowest payed of all, the textile workers
were examined McCall's research determined that a difficulty communicating is such an
environment was actually beneficial to the employer because work time was not wasted with
employees talking. The work environment itself is not very conducive to communication
anyway, with loud machines making talk difficult.


Better payed blue collar workers in the aerospace industry mostly speak French, however,
due to the technical nature of the work they do, (all technical manuals are English) all
of the acronyms and technical wording they use is English, and at times is
incomprehensible to anyone outside the industry. McCall points out that French language
use is on the rise in the workplace because of structural changes, but points out that the
conceptual process is almost entirely English, not because of a lack of French engineers,
but because the market has always been traditionally English and does not change.


In the pharmaceuticals industry, which is mostly white-collar work, much of the same
phenomenon has occurred as for aerospace workers. Those whose mother tongue was French,
admitted that French was almost only used for social interactions. Like the aerospace
industry, when two French speakers spoke to each other, English technical terms were used,
but using French's structure to communicate.


What McCall concludes is that this is symptomatic of a hierarchical system between two
language groups. English being used for the rich and French for the working class, those
that have a command of neither go to the bottom of economic food chain.


In a bilingual Canada this should not happen. However, Canada is not bilingual, and it
does not desire to be. McRoberts details the history of Canada's attempt at National
bilingualism.


With the Pearson government came changes in language policy, and over the next three
decades of language training and making federal institutions bilingual. The Royal
Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (or the B&B Commission) had many difficulties
in implementing their suggestions; Trudeau's government had no desire to see any of the
B&B Commission's suggestions implemented, but did succeed in making Ottawa bilingual.
Despite these difficulties, much progress was made and the federal government has become a
basically bilingual institution, political leaders now must be bilingual, as well as any
government official that needs to be in the public eye. Most public institutions can offer
bilingual service, and many areas of industry have seen a growth of francophones in them
where they never existed before.


One of the difficulties that Bilingualism faced in Canada was that individual bilingualism
was favoured over institutional bilingualism. What effect this had was that many people
learned to speak French, but were completely unable to practice it. It was impractical for
people to learn French when no one they interacted with spoke the language. Meanwhile in
Quebec people needed to bilingual if they wanted to speak with anyone else on the
continent and pushing Bilingualism in Quebec seemed redundant.


The B&B Commission had many possible interpretations of linguistic rights that it could
suggest but the two most important ones are "territorial" and "personality" principle. The
territorial principle is that bilingual institution should exist where the French or
English population warrants them, so for example a bilingual post office would not be
necessary in rural Saskatchewan or in rural Quebec. Personality principle states that
language rights are the same throughout the country McRoberts states "The personality
principle attaches uniform rights to citizenship and facilitates movement across a
country. It favours geographically dispersed linguistic groups: however few in number the
members of a language group may be in any locality they possess the full set of language
rights. The territorial principle, on the other hand, offers language groups the security
that comes from effective dominance over certain regions. In effect, a language group
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