(For students admitted in 2021-22 or before, this course will be counted as Introductory course from List A after completion. Please refer to your syllabus at https://english.hku.hk/Undergraduate/Curriculum/English_Studies.)
The concept of “community” has been key to the study of language in society since the inception of sociolinguistics in the 1960s. In the course of the past half a century, various notions of community have been proposed and applied to the study of linguistic data. These include “speech community”, “discourse community”, “community of practice”, “imagined community”, “virtual community” and most recently “transnational community”. In this course, we will explore how these concepts have been applied and we will address salient similarities and differences between them. In doing so, we will discuss the various understandings of language, and the various understandings of the relationship between language and society which lie at the heart of these different types of community. Finally, we will question the validity of the concept of community today against the backdrop of globalisation, and the rising importance of migration and mobility.
community in sociology and anthropology; speech community; discourse community; community of practice; imagined community; virtual community; transnational community; community and globalisation; mobility and migration; theoretical and epistemological differences between various conceptualisations of community; ties between different conceptualisations of community and methods for studying community
To provide students with insight into various types of community which have been used in sociolinguistics, as well as in neighbouring disciplines; to be able to critically reflect upon similarities and differences between different notions of community; and to consider the implications of these similarities and differences for the study and analysis of language use in society.
We will meet once a week for three hours. Weekly sessions will consist of a mix of lectures, question/answer sessions, group discussions, group work and tutorials.
Assessment for the course is 100% coursework. This is made up of
30% Reflection essay
30% Final project written essay
30% Final project presentation
10% Final project participation
Compulsory Course Textbook:
King, Brian W. 2019. Communities of Practice in Language Research: A Critical Introduction. Abingdon: Routledge.
Core texts will also include:
Anderson, Benedict. 1991. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London and New York: Verso.
Canagarajah, Suresh. “After Disinvention: Possibilities for Communication, Community and Competence”. In Disinventing and Reconstituting Languages, ed. by Sinfree Makoni and Alastair Pennycook. Bristol: Multilingual Matters, 233 – 240.
Coupland, Nikolas. 2010. “The Authentic Speaker and the Speech Community”. In Language and Identities, ed. by Carmen Llamas and Dominic Watt. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 99–112.
Goe, Richard W., and Sean Noonan. 2006. “The Sociology of Community”. In 21st Century Sociology: A Reference Handbook. Volume 1. Traditional and Core Areas, ed. by Clifton D. Bryant, and Dennis L. Peck. London: SAGE, 455–464.
Eckert, Penelope, and Sally McConnell-Ginet. 1992. “Think Practically and Look Locally: Language and Gender as Community-Based Practice.” Annual Review of Anthropology 21: 461–490.
McElhinny, Bonnie. 2012. “Silicon Valley Sociolinguistics? Analyzing Language, Gender and Communities of Practice in the New Knowledge Economy”. In Language in Late Capitalism: Pride and Profit, ed. by Alexandre Duchêne, and Monica Heller. London and New York: Routledge, 230–260.
Morgan, Marcyliena, Morgen H. 2014. Speech Communities. Key Topics in Linguistic Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Patrick, Peter L. 2004.. “The Speech Community”. In The Handbook of Language Variation and Change, ed. by Jack. K. Chambers, Peter Trudgill and Natalie Schilling-Estes. Blackwell: London, 573–597.
Pratt, Mary Louise. 1991. “Arts of the Contact Zone”. Modern Language Association. No volume/issue number, 33–40.
Rampton, Ben. 2000. “Speech Community”. Working Papers in Urban Language & Literacies. Paper 15.