LING102-20S2 (D) Semester Two 2020 (Distance)

Language and Society in New Zealand and Beyond

15 points
Start Date: Monday, 13 July 2020
End Date: Sunday, 8 November 2020
Withdraw Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty: Friday, 24 July 2020
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 25 September 2020


What do babies know about language when they're born? And how do our experiences as we get older affect both how we use language and what we think about other people's language behaviour? Why, for example, do people think some languages, or some dialects, are 'better' than others? And is there any truth behind such beliefs? In this course we consider a range of research from the field of linguistics that addresses these and other questions. The role of language experience will emerge as a recurrent theme: the experience that the infant has with a particular language; how our early experience with language affects how we speak and how we listen, and how our beliefs about language are created and maintained in connection to other experiences in our social lives.

When we hear somebody talk, even for the very first time, we make a split second judgement about them. That’s because a speaker’s language tells us something about them. We not only receive a linguistic message – the content of what is being said – but we also receive social information. Is the speaker male or female? How old are they? Are they working class or middle class? Are they from New Zealand or from somewhere else in the world? In this course, we explore how our language is able to convey social cues such as these. We will see that these social cues are created by our experiences – of language and of life. We will also see that our language is shaped by our experiences from the very beginning to the very end of our lives.

Our overarching questions are: How does our language influence who we are and who we are seen to be? How do our life experiences shape our language? And how does our language shape our experiences?

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students will
(1) have developed their knowledge of how language (including sound patterns and grammatical systems) can vary,
(2) understand the relationship between language and society, and how e.g. social attitudes can affect language use,
(3) understand how different groups of people use language differently.

They will also
(4) be able to conduct bibliographic searches of relevant work relating to language and society, and
(5) be able to critically evaluate rival hypothesis. In particular, they will be able to think critically about the opinions very commonly expressed in the media about linguistic issues, and will be able to evaluate the evidence for those opinions.

University Graduate Attributes

This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

Biculturally competent and confident

Students will be aware of and understand the nature of biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand, and its relevance to their area of study and/or their degree.


Equivalent Courses

Timetable 2020

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 09:00 - 10:00 Meremere 105 Lecture Theatre 13 Jul - 23 Aug
7 Sep - 18 Oct
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 11:00 - 12:00 A8 Lecture Theatre 13 Jul - 23 Aug
7 Sep - 18 Oct
Tutorial A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 11:00 - 12:00 Jack Erskine 339 Language Lab 20 Jul - 23 Aug
7 Sep - 18 Oct
02 Wednesday 16:00 - 17:00 Rehua 008 Computer Lab 20 Jul - 23 Aug
7 Sep - 18 Oct
03 Wednesday 12:00 - 13:00 Jack Erskine 248 Computer Lab 20 Jul - 23 Aug
7 Sep - 18 Oct
04 Tuesday 10:00 - 11:00 Rehua 008 Computer Lab 20 Jul - 23 Aug
7 Sep - 18 Oct

Course Coordinator

Kevin Watson


Jeanette King , Viktoria Papp and Jennifer Hay

Guest Lecturer

Andy Gibson


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Quizzes 30% Weeks 1-5, 7-11.
Literature review 30% Due in week 6.
Research report 40% Due in week 12.

Textbooks / Resources

Required Texts

Meyerhoff, M; Introducing Sociolinguistics; 2nd; Routledge, 2011.

Recommended Reading

Trousdale, G; An introduction to English sociolinguistics; Edinburgh University Press, 2010.

Trudgill, P; Sociolinguistics: an introduction to language and society; Penguin, 2000.

Course links

Library portal
The course outline is available on LEARN (only for students enrolled in this course).

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $777.00

International fee $3,375.00

* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.

For further information see Language, Social and Political Sciences.

All LING102 Occurrences

  • LING102-20S2 (C) Semester Two 2020
  • LING102-20S2 (D) Semester Two 2020 (Distance)