6th Edition

Language, Society and Power An Introduction

By Annabelle Mooney, Betsy Evans Copyright 2023
    308 Pages 30 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    308 Pages 30 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    Language, Society and Power provides an accessible introduction to the study of language in a variety of social contexts. This book examines the ways language functions, how it influences the way we view society, and how it varies according to age, ethnicity, class, and gender. Readers are encouraged to consider whether representations of people and their language matter, explore how identity is constructed and performed, and examine the creative potential of language in the media, politics, and everyday talk.

    With updates and new international examples throughout, the sixth edition of this popular textbook features:

    • Thoroughly revised chapters on politics and media to include topics such as environmentalism, the politics of consumer choice, injustice in legal systems, and the power of social media in political activism
    • Expanded coverage of ongoing debates around fake news, gender fluidity and representation, and multilingualism
    • Discussions of surveillance in relation to linguistic landscapes
    • Examination of linguistic change due to COVID-19
    • A companion website which includes streamlined exercises, further reading, a 'who's who' of Twitter, and links to blogs and videos to support learning as students make their way through the book.

    Language, Society and Power assumes no linguistic background among readers and is a must-read for all students of English language and linguistics, media, communication, cultural studies, sociology, and psychology who are studying language and society for the first time.


    List of Figures

    List of Images

    List of Tables

    Transcription Conventions

    Preface to the Sixth Edition


    Chapter 1 Language?

    1.1 Introduction

    1.2 Why Study Language?

    1.3 What Is Language?

    1.3.1 Language: A System

    1.3.2 Language: A System with Variation

    1.3.3 The Potential to Create New Meanings

    1.4 The ‘Rules’ of Language: Prescription Versus Description

    1.5 Power

    1.5.1 Ideology

    1.6 ‘Political Correctness’

    1.7 Summary

    Further Reading

    Chapter 2 Language, Thought and Representation

    2.1 Introduction

    2.2 Language as a System of Representation

    2.2.1 Different Kinds of Language

    2.2.2 Signs and Structure

    2.3 Linguistic Diversity

    2.3.1 Semantics

    2.3.2 Syntax

    2.4 The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

    2.4.1 Linguistic Relativism and Determinism

    2.4.2 Numbers, Things, and Animals

    2.5 One Language, Many Worlds

    2.6 A Model for Analysing Language

    2.6.1 Lexical Choices

    2.6.2 Transitivity

    2.7 Summary

    Further Reading

    Chapter 3 Language and Politics

    3.1 Introduction

    3.2 What is ‘Politics’?

    3.3 Politics and Ideology

    3.4 Three Persuasive Strategies: Logos, Pathos, Ethos

    3.5 Biscuits are Political?: Introducing Linguistic Tools

    3.6 Climate Change and Political Discourse

    3.7 Language, Ideology, and Metaphor

    3.7.1 Student as Customer

    3.8 Twitter and Political Agency

    3.9 Silly Citizenship

    3.9.1 Jorts the Cat

    3.9.2 ‘K-Pop and TikTok

    3.10 Summary

    Further Reading

    Chapter 4 Language and the Media

    4.1 Introduction

    4.2 Mass Media

    4.3 The Changing Context

    4.3.1 Structure

    4.3.2 Who is Producing Content?

    4.4 Manufacture of Consent

    4.4.1 Filtering the Facts

    4.5 News Values

    4.5.1 Actors and Events

    4.6 New News Values

    4.7 Who is the Expert; Who is the Author?

    4.8 Fake News

    4.8.1 ‘Fake news’ as Delegitimising Accusation

    4.8.2 Fabricated News Reports to Misinform

    4.8.3 Fabricated News Reports to Entertain

    4.8.4 Comedy News Shows

    4.9 Summary

    Further Reading

    Chapter 5 Linguistic Landscapes

    5.1 Introduction

    5.2 Defining the Linguistic Landscape

    5.2.1 Space and Meaning

    5.2.2 Different Kinds of Signs

    5.2.3 'Top-down' and 'Bottom-up' as a Continuum

    5.3 Signs and Multilingualism and Power

    5.3.1 Invisible Language

    5.4 Signs and Ideology

    5.5 Transgressive Signs: Graffiti

    5.6 Surveillance

    5.7 Online Landscapes

    5.7.1 Twitter

    5.7.2 Instagram

    5.7.3 Memes

    5.8 Summary

    Further Reading

    Chapter 6 Language and Gender

    6.1 Introduction

    6.2 What is Gender?

    6.3 Inequality at the Lexical Level

    6.3.1 Marked Terms

    6.3.2 Semantic Derogation

    6.3.3 Pronouns

    6.4 Differences in Language Use: Doing Being a ‘Woman’ or A ‘Man’

    6.4.1 Tag Questions

    6.5 Gossip

    6.5.1 Gossip and Men

    6.5.2 Features of Men’s Talk

    6.6 Gender and Power

    6.6.1 Do Women Talk More than Men?

    6.6.2 Gender or Power?

    6.6.3 Intersectionality

    6.7 Gendered Talk: Performing Identity

    6.7.1 Mate

    6.7.2 Variation

    6.8 Summary

    Further Reading

    Chapter 7 Language and Ethnicity

    7.1 Introduction

    7.2 What Do We Mean By ‘Ethnicity’?

    7.3 Racism and Representations of Ethnicity

    7.3.1 Representations of Race

    7.3.2 Racism Online

    7.3.3 Reclaiming Terms

    7.4 Ethnicity and Language Variation

    7.4.1 Ethnolect or Repertoire?

    7.4.2 African American Language

    7.5 Ethnicity and Identity

    7.5.1 Situated Ethnicity

    7.6 Consequences for Ethnolinguistic Repertoires

    7.6.1 Australian Aboriginal English

    7.6.2 Sociolinguistic Labour

    7.9 Summary

    Further Reading

    Chapter 8 Language and Age

    8.1 Introduction

    8.2 What do We Mean by 'Age'?

    8.3 Early Life Stage

    8.3.1 Language Used to Talk to Children

    8.4 Adolescent Life Stage

    8.4.1 What Teenagers Do

    8.4.2 Multiple Negation

    8.4.3 ‘Like’ as a Discourse Marker

    8.4.4 Changes to Morphology

    8.5 Middle Life Stage

    8.5.1 Thanks Across the Generations

    8.6 Later Life Stage

    8.6.1 Representations of Older People

    8.6.2 Self-representation of Older People

    8.6.3 Language Used to Talk to Older People

    8.6.4 Learning to Use the Internet

    8.7 The Creep of Ageism

    8.7.1 OK Boomer and Bla, Bla, Bla

    8.8 Summary

    Further Reading

    Chapter 9 Language, Class and Symbolic Capital

    9.1 Introduction

    9.2 What is Social Class?

    9.3 Attitudes to Class

    9.3.1 Social Class as Other

    9.3.2 Representations of Social Class

    9.3.3 Pittsburghese

    9.4 Linguistic Variation

    9.4.1 New York City

    9.4.2 Norwich

    9.4.3 Glasgow

    9.5 Intersection of Social Class and Other Variables

    9.5.1 Social Class and Gender

    9.6 Social Networks

    9.7 Communities of Practice

    9.8 Symbolic Capital

    9.9 Revising the British Social Class Model

    9.9.1 Power and Access to Symbolic Capital

    9.9.2 Capital in the Global South

    9.10 Summary

    Further Reading

    Chapter 10 Global Englishes

    10.1 Introduction

    10.2 What Does Global English Mean?

    10.3 Learning English

    10.3.1 Two Models

    10.3.2 ‘Lingua Franca Core’

    10.4 ‘Singlish’

    10.5 Indian English

    10.6 Linguistic Marketplace

    10.6.1 Call Centres and English

    10.7 Linguistic Imperialism

    10.8 What do Language Varieties Mean in the Global Context?

    10.8.1 Language Repertoires

    10.8.2 Discourse in Advertising and Linguistic Landscapes

    10.9 Summary

    Further Reading

    Chapter 11 Projects

    11.1 Introduction

    11.2 Things to Bear in Mind with Data Collection

    11.2.1 What is 'Data'?

    11.2.2 Transcribing

    11.2.3 Data Analysis

    11.3 Projects

    Project 1 – Mini Dictionary

    Project 2 – Political Texts

    Project 3 – Your Own Many Voices

    Project 4 – Conversational Politics

    Project 5 – Expertise in the Media

    Project 6 – Representation of Gender

    Project 7 – Titles Around the World

    Project 8 – Identity

    Project 9 – Digital Detox

    Project 10 – Little Bits of Data

    Project 11 – Children’s Television

    Project 12 – Texts and Social Media

    Project 13 – Linguistic Landscapes

    Project 14 – Political Agency

    11.4 Research Resources

    11.4.1 Where to Find Published Research

    11.4.2 Other Resources

    Further Reading

    Works Cited



    Annabelle Mooney is Emerita Professor of Language and Society at the University of Roehampton, UK.

    Betsy Evans is Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Washington, USA.

    "This edition of Language, Society and Power is up to date with current developments in society that impact issues of power and ideology. It involves the reader – tutors and students alike – in an analysis of these developments, sucks them in to explore their in-ward understanding of language issues." – Ayo Amuda, University of South Wales, UK

    "Language, Society and Power contains a balanced and very accessible coverage of the core concepts of sociolinguistics, illustrated through carefully chosen and meticulously discussed data. It is a must for students and everyone interested in understanding and analysing how we use language in our societies." – Irene Theodoropoulou, Qatar University