An Introduction to Sociolinguistics  book cover
6th Edition

An Introduction to Sociolinguistics

ISBN 9780367421106
Published February 28, 2022 by Routledge
732 Pages 81 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Sociolinguistics is the study of the interaction between language and society. In this classic introductory work, Janet Holmes and Nick Wilson examine the role of language in a variety of social contexts, considering both how language works and how it can be used to signal and interpret various aspects of social identity. Divided into three parts, this book explains basic sociolinguistic concepts in the light of classic approaches, as well as introducing more recent research.

This sixth edition has been revised and updated throughout, using key concepts and examples to guide the reader through this fascinating area, including:

• New material on gender, social media and online use of language, codeswitching, and language policy

• An updated companion website that is fully cross- referenced within this book and features video and audio materials and links to useful websites

• Revised examples and exercises that include new material from Asia and South America

• Fully updated further reading and references sections

An Introduction to Sociolinguistics is an essential introductory text for all students of sociolinguistics and a splendid point of reference for students of English language studies, linguistics, and applied linguistics.

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Images

List of Maps

List of Tables

Preface to Sixth edition

Preface to Fifth Edition

Preface to Fourth Edition

Preface to Third Edition

Preface to Second Edition

Preface to First Edition

Author’s Acknowledgements

Publisher’s Acknowledgements

The Online Companion

1. What do sociolinguists study?


Section I: Multilingual Speech Communities

2. Language choice in multilingual communities

3. Language maintenance and shift

4. Linguistic varieties and multilingual nations

5. National languages, language policy, and language planning  


Section II: Language Variation: Focus on Users

6. Regional and social dialects

7. Gender and age

8. Ethnicity and social networks

9. Language change


Interlude: Identity in Sociolinguistics


Section III: Language Variation: Focus on Uses

10. Style, context and register

11. Speech functions, politeness and cross-cultural communication

12. Gender, politeness and stereotypes

13. Language, cognition and culture

14. Analysing Discourse

15. Attitudes and applications

16. Conclusion


Appendix: phonetic symbols



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Janet Holmes is Emeritus Professor of Linguistics and Associate Director of the Language in the Workplace Project at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. She has published extensively in sociolinguistics, specialising in workplace discourse and language and gender. Her many books include Research Methods in Sociolinguistics: A Practical Guide, co-edited with Kirk Hazen.

Nick Wilson is a Lecturer in Applied Linguistics at the University of Limerick, Ireland, and an honorary Senior Lecturer in Linguistics at Macquarie University, Australia. His published research focuses on how language is used in sports teams and his current research is on how people use swearing and taboo language in interaction.


"This excellent and accessible textbook is tried and tested. I have used it for undergraduate courses in Europe and Asia for more than 20 years with great success. The 6th edition discusses even more languages and countries, and each chapter includes a methodology section which will help students engage in sociolinguistic research."

Hans Ladegaard, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, China


"For those (students or laypersons) fascinated in the role, functions, forms, and uses of language – and policies relating to them – in our (and others’) social worlds, then this is the introduction for you. It is uniquely reader-friendly with global examples of a myriad of concepts central to sociolinguistics, aligned with intriguing exercises (and their answers) that ensure complete understanding and mastery." 

Howie Giles, University of California, USA, and University of Queensland, Australia