This course introduces students to core research areas within the field of language and communication, with a focus on theories, approaches and applications drawn from sociolinguistics. It is designed for students who already have solid foundations in sociolinguistics and communication studies, as well as for students who are new to the field. We focus on foundational concepts as well as contemporary key issues to provide a state-of-the-art overview of some of the social, cultural and political dimensions in language and communication research. Students are expected to engage in discussions and independent research about topics that are of relevance to them and their own communities.
This is a reading-heavy course. Students are expected to complete a minimum of 80 hours of independent reading over the semester. We meet on Monday evenings for 1.5-hour lectures, immediately followed by one-hour tutorials. The lectures provide detailed overviews of relevant topics in language and communication research, but they do not substitute the readings. In the tutorials students will be given opportunities to engage with the materials through in-class discussions, presentations and group work and thereby apply their knowledge and understanding of the concepts, theories and approaches we discuss in this course.
At the end of the course, students will be able to:
- Describe and compare key issues and methodologies in the field of language and communication
- Identify and critically discuss contemporary key issues in the field
- Reflect on and articulate how these key issues relate to society, culture, and power
- Conduct ethically sound and empirically grounded independent research
- Tutorial contribution and participation. CLO 1, 2, 3 10%
- Data collection and research method plan. CLO 1, 2, 4 10%
- Reader responses. CLO 2, 3 20%
- Data session reflection. CLO 1, 2, 3, 4 20%
- 1,600-word pilot study (13 December). CLO 1, 2, 3, 4 40%
Regular office hours will be held during the semester. Please consult the course syllabus for updated information.
Writing essay drafts and final essay 30h
Conducting/presenting small research 10h
Syllabus and Readings
The units covered in the course include:
- Theoretical foundations of language and communication
- Data collection and theories of transcription
- Spoken discourse and social interaction
- Discourse, gender and sexuality
- Research methods in sociolinguistics
- (Multimodal) critical discourse analysis
- Language and social media
- Linguistic landscapes
- Multilingualism and translanguaging
Assigned readings for the courses will be updated on the course syllabus. These may include some of the readings listed below:
Abe, Hideko (2011) Lesbian Bar Talk in Shinjuku, Tokyo. In Language & Gender: A Reader (2nd Edition), edited by Jennifer Coates and Pia Pichler, 375-383. Oxford [UK]/Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell.
Blommaert, Jan (2005) Discourse: A Critical Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Blommaert, Jan (2010) The Sociolinguistics of Globalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bolander, B. and MA Locher (2014) Doing sociolinguistic research on computer-mediated data: A review of four methodological issues Discourse, Context & Media, 3 (March): 14-26.
Bucholtz, Mary (2000) The politics of transcription. Journal of Pragmatics 32: 1439-1465.
Cameron, Deborah (1997) “Performing Gender Identity: Young Men’s Talk and the Construction of Heterosexual Masculinity.” In Language and Masculinity, edited by Sally Johnson and Ulrike Meinhof, 47-64. Oxford: Blackwell.
Cameron, Deborah (2005) “Language, Gender and Sexuality: Current Issues and New Directions.” Applied Linguistics 26(4): 482-502.
Canagarajah, Suresh (2018) Translingual Practice as Spatial Repertoires: Expanding the Paradigm Beyond Structuralist Orientations, Applied Linguistics, Volume 39, Issue 1, February 2018, Pages 31–54, https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amx041
Coupland, Nikolas (2007) Style: Variation and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Coupland, Nikolas and Adam Jaworski (eds.) (2009) The New Sociolinguistics Reader. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Coupland, Nikolas (ed.) (2016) Sociolinguistics: Theoretical Debates. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Curl, Traci S. (2006) Offers of assistance: Constraints on syntactic design. Journal of Pragmatics 38: 1257–1280.
Deumert, Ana (2014) Sociolinguistics and Mobile Communication. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Fairclough, N. (1993) Critical Discourse Analysis of the Marketization of Public Discourse: The Universities. Discourse & Society 4(2): 133-168.
Garcia, Ofelia and Li Wei (2014) Translanguaging: Language, Bilingualism and Education. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Goodwin, Marjorie Harness. “Building Power Asymmetries in Girls’ Interaction.” Discourse & Society 13/6 (2002): 715-30.
Gumperz, J.J. (1990) Discourse Strategies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hall, Kira. (2011) “Boys’ Talk: Hindi, Moustaches and Masculinity in New Delhi.” In & Gender: A Reader (2nd Edition), edited by Jennifer Coates and Pia Pichler, 384-400. Oxford [UK]/Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell.
Halliday, M. (1978) Language as social semiotic: The social interpretation of language and meaning. Baltimore, MD: University Park Press.
Jakobson, R. (1960) Concluding Statement Linguistics and Poetics. In T. Sebeok (Ed.), Style in Language (pp. 350-377). Cambridge MIT Press.
Jaworski, A. and Li Wei (2021) Introducing writing (in) the city. Social Semiotics 31/1:1-13.
Jaworski, A. and Jackie Jia Lou (2021) #wordswewear: Mobile texts, expressive persons, and conviviality in urban spaces. Social Semiotics 31/1: 108-135.
Lazar, Michelle (2006) “Discover The Power Of Femininity!” Feminist Media Studies, 6:4, 505-517.
Lemke, J. L. (2000). Across the scales of time: Artifacts, activities, and meanings in ecosocial systems. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 7(4), 273–290.
Li Wei, Alfred Tsang, Nick Wong & Pedro Lok (2020) Kongish Daily: researching translanguaging creativity and subversiveness, International Journal of Multilingualism, 17:3, 309-335, DOI: 10.1080/14790718.2020.1766465
Li, W. and H. Zhu (2013) ‘Translanguaging identities and ideologies: Creating transnational space through flexible multilingual practices amongst Chinese university students in the UK,’ Applied Linguistics 34: 516–35.
Lin, A. M. Y (2019) Theories of trans/languaging and trans-semiotizing: implications for content-based education classroom, International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 22:1, 5-16, DOI: 10.1080/13670050.2018.1515175
Lin, A. M. Y., & He, P. (2017). Translanguaging as dynamic activity flows in CLIL classrooms. Journal of Language, Identity & Education, 16(4), 228–244.
Ochs, Elinor (1979) "Transcription as theory", In Developmental Pragmatics (Elinor Ochs, Bambi B. Schieffelin, eds.), New York, Academic Press, pp. 43–72.
Podesva, R., & Sharma, D. (Eds.). (2014). Research Methods in Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9781139013734
Scollon, Ron and S.W. Scollon (2003) Discourses in Place: Language in the Material World. Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group.
Trudgill, Peter. (1972) “Sex, Covert Prestige, and Linguistic Change in the Urban British English of Norwich.” Language in Society 1: 179-195.
The University’s definitions on “plagiarism” are as follows:
Plagiarism refers to “direct copying of textual material or wilful use of other people’s data and ideas, and presenting them as one’s own without acknowledgement, whether or not such materials, data and ideas have been published” (Paragraph 6, HKU’s “Regulations Governing Students’ Academic Conduct Concerning Assessment”). In other words, a person is committing plagiarism if he/she paraphrases or quotes the work of another person without clearly identifying (according to academic conventions) the borrowed material and documenting its source.
Self-plagiarism refers to “reuse of one’s own data or repeat of previously published written work, or part thereof, in a ‘new’ publication without acknowledging that the data set has been used or written work has been published elsewhere” (Paragraph 3.1, HKU’s “Policy on Research Integrity”). For instance, if a student re-uses largely or fully the contents of his/her past assignment submitted elsewhere and without acknowledging so in the “new” assignment, it can constitute self-plagiarism.
Plagiarism is a very serious offence and it is strictly prohibited in all assignments and examinations: "A candidate shall not engage in plagiarism nor employ nor seek to employ any other unfair means at an examination or in any other form of assessment” (Paragraph 6, HKU’s “Regulations Governing Students’ Academic Conduct Concerning Assessment”). Students should use proper citations and provide sources wherever necessary.
Protocol on the Handling of Plagiarism
There are severe penalties for plagiarism in the School of English. Students found plagiarizing may be failed not only in the plagiarized oral or written assignment but in the course. Their case will also be considered by a School panel which may decide on further penalties depending on the gravity of the offence. This may involve disclosure of the plagiarism committed to teachers of other courses within the School. The panel may also decide to lodge a complaint with the University's Disciplinary Committee which can result in other penalties. For details, please refer to the “Protocol on the Handling of Plagiarism” available on the Faculty’s website and the MAES Handbook for more details.
There are clear university guidelines in the “What Is Plagiarism” booklet. Students should read these guidelines carefully and revisit them from time to time, especially before submitting an assignment. Ignorance about the nature and definition of plagiarism is never an excuse and will not be accepted. The School of English prepared the “Guidelines for Citing and Documenting Sources” (PDF) for students to download.
Originality Checking of Assignments
Please read HKU’s Turnitin webpage for information on this originality checking engine, which “offers originality checking on students' work for proper citation or potential plagiarism. Once a paper is submitted to Turnitin, it will compare with documents in a continuously updated database consisting of current and archived web pages, millions of student papers worldwide, and collections of newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, e-Books and e-Texts”.