Urban Sociolinguistics : The City as a Linguistic Process and Experience book cover
1st Edition

Urban Sociolinguistics
The City as a Linguistic Process and Experience

ISBN 9781138200371
Published September 5, 2017 by Routledge
260 Pages

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Book Description

From Los Angeles to Tokyo, Urban Sociolinguistics is a sociolinguistic study of twelve urban settings around the world. Building on William Labov’s famous New York Study, the authors demonstrate how language use in these areas is changing based on belief systems, behavioural norms, day-to-day rituals and linguistic practices.

All chapters are written by key figures in sociolinguistics and presents the personal stories of individuals using linguistic means to go about their daily communications, in diverse sociolinguistic systems such as:

  • extremely large urban conurbations like Cairo, Tokyo, and Mexico City
  • smaller settings like Paris and Sydney
  • less urbanised places such as the Western Netherlands Randstad area and Kohima in India.

Providing new perspectives on crucial themes such as language choice and language contact, code-switching and mixing, language and identity, language policy and planning and social networks, this is key reading for students and researchers in the areas of multilingualism and super-diversity within sociolinguistics, applied linguistics and urban studies.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Why cities matter for a globalising sociolinguistics

Patrick Heinrich / Dick Smakman

2. Urban sociolinguistics

Florian Coulmas

Part I: The Global South

Introduction to part I

3. Cairo: The linguistic dynamics of a multilingual city

Reem Bassiouney / Mark Muehlhaeusler

4. Mexico City: Homogeneity and superdiversity

Roland Terborg / Virna Velázquez

5. Old variables, new meanings: Resignification of rural speech variants in São Paolo’s Portuguese urban ecology

Livia Oushiro / Maria de Carmen Parafita Couto

6. Dubai: Language in the ethnographic, corporate and mobile city

Ingrid Piller

7. Kohima: Language variation and change in a small but diverse city in India

Shobha Satyanath

Part II: The Global North

Introduction to part II

8. The language of London and Londoners

Susan Fox / Devyani Sharma

9. Tokyo: Standardization, ludic language use and emerging superdiversity

Patrick Heinrich / Rika Yamashita

10. The city as a result of experiences: Paris and its nearby suburbs

Christine Deprez

11. The Randstad area in the Netherlands: Emergent and fluid identity-locality production through language in use

Leonie Cornips / Vincent de Rooij / Dick Smakman

12. Notes on the language ecology of the City of Angels: Los Angeles, California, 1965–2015

Reynaldo F. Marcías / Arturo Díaz / Ameer Drane

13. Sydney’s intersecting worlds of languages and things

Emi Otsuji / Alastair Pennycook

14. Moscow: Diversity in disguise

Kapitolina Federova / Vlada Baranova

In place of conclusions: A proposal for street use surveys

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Dick Smakman is Lecturer at Leiden University, The Netherlands. He has taught courses in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics at universities in the Netherlands, England, Poland and Japan.

Patrick Heinrich is Associate Professor at the Department of Asian and Mediterranean African Studies at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, Italy.

Together, they are the co-editors of Globalising Sociolinguistics (2015).


"A first-rate collection of empirically based, theoretically informed essays on sociolinguistic diversity in the major cities of the world. In merging foundational urban sociolinguistics with more recent developments that stress superdiverse fluidities, Urban Sociolinguistics is a sophisticated and important advance in the field." – Rajend Mesthrie, University of Cape Town, South Africa.

"A genuinely novel approach for modern sociolinguistics. More than half the world’s population now lives in cities – this radical change poses a number of questions for sociolinguists. Urban Sociolinguistics holds out a multitude of possibilities for researchers at any stage in their career." – Miriam Meyerhoff, University of Wellington, New Zealand.


"This volume is beneficial to both theoretical and applied linguists due to the versatility of the approaches used when studying languages in urban ecologies." - Teresa Wai See Ong, LINGUIST List, January 2020