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Unit information: Hispanic Sociolinguistics in 2015/16

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Unit name Hispanic Sociolinguistics
Unit code HISP30056
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. James Hawkey
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Hispanic, Portuguese and Latin American Studies
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This final-year unit introduces students to key concepts of sociolinguistic theory and places them in a Hispanic context for analysis. With little-to-no prior knowledge of linguistics, students will firstly examine different topics within sociolinguistics, including (among others):

  • language variation and change
  • multilingualism and language contact
  • language policy and planning

These theoretical tools will then be applied to the current situation of Ibero-Romance language varieties (Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Galician, Judeo-Spanish) around the world. Lessons will be dedicated to the analysis of specific Hispanic case studies worldwide, such as:

  • the role of minority Ibero-Romance varieties in Spain
  • the issues faced by indigenous languages of Latin America
  • the creation of Spanish-based pidgin and creole varieties
  • the sociolinguistic situation of Spanish in the United States

Intended learning outcomes

1. Students will become familiar with the discipline of linguistics, acquiring new theoretical tools which will allow for the in-depth study of Ibero-Romance varieties in contemporary society.

2. Students will gain greater knowledge of various languages spoken worldwide, and will be able to undertake cross-linguistic comparative study.

3. Students will be able to apply their new theoretical knowledge to different linguistic situations, and will be able to perform independent, original, critical analyses.

4. Students will gain a deeper understanding of how language is used in present day Hispanic, Portuguese and Latin American society.

5. Students will be skilled in the selection and synthesis of relevant material as appropriate to work at level H.

6. Students will be able to evaluate and analyse relevant material from a significant body of source materials at a high level.

7. Students will be able to transfer these skills to other working environments, including study at a foreign university and/or work placements during their year abroad.

Teaching details

1 x 2-hour slot per week across 1 teaching block, divided into an informal lecture (one hour) and a seminar (one hour).

Assessment Details

  • Essay (3000 words, 50%) which will assess ILOs 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7.
  • Exam (2 hours, 50%) which will assess ILOs 1-6.

Reading and References

  • Hickey, R. (2010, ed). The handbook of language contact. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Lipski, J.M. (1994). Latin American Spanish. London/New York: Longman
  • Meyerhoff, M. (2006). Introducing Sociolinguistics. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Romaine, S. (2000). Language in Society: An Introduction to Sociolinguistics, second edition. Oxford: OUP