Hi, welcome to this last module, unfortunately, of this MOOC already. But fortunately, we have a very interesting topic this time. That's language spoken in its social context. You could say language spoken in the real world. In the previous modules, we looked at language a little bit like a pathologist looks at an animal. So, what does a pathologist do? It takes the animal, it kills the animal, it takes the life out of that animal, brings it to the laboratory and starts dissecting it. There's many things you can learn from dissecting an animal like that. And similarly, there's many things you can learn from studying language like that from dissecting it, from analyzing words and sentences and sounds and meanings the way we have done so far in this course. But we could also try to study animals in the real world, when they are alive, when they walk around. Then similarly, we can study language in that way. We can study language in its natural context. What's the natural context for language? Interaction between people. Well, linguists who do that, such linguists are called sociolinguists. And their field is called social linguistics. And that's the topic of this module. Sociolinguists usually look at language as a dynamic system, which means something which changes all the time. That's actually true. You can observe it. Every language changes all the time. Everywhere in the world, you hear old people complain about how younger people speak. Well, that's a sign that languages are changing. That's what interests sociolinguists. They study how language changes, and therefore also how it varies. This is a very important, and I think interesting observation of language. There's no pair of speakers anywhere in the world who speak in exactly the same way. There may be identical twins and still they speak slightly differently. Still they will have at least slightly different words in their vocabulary or maybe they have a slightly different accent in their pronunciation or they have a slightly different way of building their sentences. You can recognize an individual on the particular way in which he uses his language. So, every individual speaks in a slightly different way and then, we can group individuals and we can do that in different ways as well. A traditional one is to do it genetically, that means we group languages genetically. So we take French and Italian, we say they're sisters of each other and they're both daughters of Latin. We can do the same for dialects. We can say Northern French and Southern French are both dialects of a mother language, which in that case would be French. And that actually brings me immediately to a second related but not entirely similar classification which is a geographical one. We can say a dialect is defined by the area where it's spoken. This is not always exactly the same as the genetic definition because you can have two dialects which have different mother languages but are spoken in the same area and therefore resemble each other more than they would otherwise do. So those are two classifications but there are many more. We can also group people according to their age. And actually we find some corollary to that in language as well. People who have more or less the same age will tend to speak more alike than people who are older or younger than they are. That's also true for gender. So for men versus women, in most societies men and women will tend to speak slightly differently. Or it's true for social class. Rich people, wealthy people, will speak differently from poor people. For instance, people of higher education speak differently from people of lower education. Those versions of language we call sociolects. And those sociolects consist of the tiniest units of our social analysis, which we can call idiolects, the languages of individual beings. Sociolects are not above idiolects because the language of an individual is defined by different kinds of sociolects to which this individual belongs. So I'm an individual, I'm a man, I'm a professor, I'm Dutch. And my language can be understood as the combination of sociolects of many different groups. What is the reason that there's so much diversity? It's very striking. Why is it the case that there is no language in the world where you have no variation? It would be very practical to have no variation. It would be very easy if everybody would speak exactly in the same way. Given that there is variation, there can be confusion. If I speak slightly differently from you, it means maybe sometimes you don't understand what I say. If I change my language it means that maybe previous generations will no longer be able to understand me perfectly. So why is there this impractical thing of variation? Well one answer seems to be that language is not just used for this practical thing of transferring information. I have this idea in my head, and I move my mouth, and you hear it, and then you have more or less the same idea in your head. We also use it for other kinds of information. To show who we want to be, who we are. And that's very similar to clothes. So the function of clothes, what's the function of clothes? Well, the function of clothes is to protect you from the sun, to protect you from bad weather, maybe to protect you from the looks of passers by. But that's not the only function of clothes. You cannot understand everything I'm wearing from just that particular function. Why am I wearing all these things I'm wearing now? There's another function. I'm wearing these things because I try to show who I am, who I want to be. I'm showing I'm a professor, I'm showing that I'm Dutch, I'm showing all these different things. Take this tie. Why am I wearing a tie? It doesn't protect me from anything. It just has this social function. And language has similar functions. Language also is not just there to convey semantic and pragmatic meaning. It also reveals many things about who we want to be, who we are. And if language is linked to social structure in this very intimate way then it's no miracle that it varies and that it changes. People vary. Every individual human being is different from an individual human being, so their language varies as well. People change, so their language changes as well. The way we dress also doesn't stay the same. The way we dress also varies from one person to the next. There's of course certain limits. Those limits are given, for instance, by biology. So I cannot just change anything. I cannot all of a sudden decide that now I'm going to speak by putting my tongue in my eye, because my biology doesn't allow that. But within those limits, I can vary, and I do. So within the limits of biology we all vary and that's what sociolinguists are interested in. So that's what we've seen, sociolinguists are interested in this kind of variation. How is it classified? Where does it come from? And we're going to look in the next videos at a few more concrete examples. I'm going to show you one study of how in one city in America something changed and how that was affected by differences between men and women or between social classes. And we're going to look at another very fascinating aspect of language which is showing respect, showing politeness.