Dr. B. Johnstone's lecture on Pittsburghese

Learn how "Pittsburghese" (dialect) has come to be such a strong symbol of Pittsburgh's identity.

Vernacular Dialect

A vernacular dialect is a variety of English that is associated with a socially subordinate group. This term is analogous to the term ‘vernacular language’ in the way that the latter is used to identify a local or native language vis-à-vis the official standard language in a multilingual society.

Language Variation

The concept of language variation is central in sociolinguistics. The English language varies on individual, regional, national and global levels. Unfortunately, some people are unaware of various social and regional dialects, and different varieties of English in the world.

Computer Mediated Communication

Development of computer technology lead to creating of ‘a new site for discourse’, characteristics of which have not been conventionalized yet. CMC has discourse patterns that are similar to other types of discourse: it ‘exhibits the same gendered, hierarchical characteristics as do other registers’.

Vernacular vs. Standard

Eckert (chapter 19) defines vernacular as the language that is the most closely associated with locally-based communities. The standard is the language that is used in ‘globalizing institutions,’ which include schools and universities, business and government offices, and banks.


The term sociolect is the same as social dialect, and is used as a label for the alignment of a set of language structures with the social position of a group in a status hierarchy. It is used to refer to differences that are associated with groups that are unequal in status and power.

What is Sociolinguistics?

The field of sociolinguistics is a relatively young but rather important branch of linguistics. It studies language in its social context, and analyzes the actual language use by different speakers in order to explain language variation and language change.

Problems with Language and Gender Studies

The study of language and gender has developed in response to the emergence of feminism. Since there is no single variety of feminism, feminist theorists disagree on various issues.

Individual vs. Societal Multilingualism

Individual multilingualism refers to the ability of an individual person to use more than two languages fluently. Societal multilingualism is linguistic diversity that can be found in a country.

Multilingualism in the USA

The USA has great linguistic resources; however, they have always been ignored or even destroyed. The USA is predominantly a monolingual English-speaking country.The majority of the immigrants do not speak their native languages past two generations.

A Pidgin Language

A pidgin is a grammatically simple language that develops as a result of intense interaction between speakers of two or more different languages when the speakers do not fully learn the language of each other but instead use vocabulary of the social elite/dominant group and the grammar of less prestigious but more frequently spoken languages.

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General Linguistics

General Linguistics

What is linguistics? What does it study? What is language? These and other questions are discussed in this section.

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