A language is an essential tool for communication purposes. It is used for promoting peace and order in society. It is used for displaying authority and power, and for the obtainment of goals and objectives. However, language can also be destructive to society if it is used inappropriately. Language must be used following the conformity that governs the society so that conflicts can be avoided and the boundary of individual differences can be met.
The four different approaches to looking at language and society are as follows:
Sociolinguistics refers to the study of the sociological aspects of language. This approach is concerned with the role language plays in the maintenance of the social roles in a community. It includes the impact of cultural norms, expectations, and context on the use of language, and the impact of society in its entirety on language.
Sociology of Language
Sociology of language refers to the study of the relationship between language and society. It is closely linked to the area of sociolinguistics which focuses on the impact of society on language. Joshua Fishman was one of the longest and most prolific practitioners of this approach. It is the study of society concerning language that deals with the impact of language on society.
Language and Gender
Gender can be regarded as a socially constructed concept used to differentiate men and women and assign them different roles and responsibilities, and so on. It is one of the most common ways of organizing the social life of human beings. Parents assume boys and girls to be different ever since infancy. In the 1970s, the feminists viewed can the notion of gender as a ‘construct’. The Socialization theory argues that masculine and feminine identities result from a process of socialization that begins in childhood. In Walby’s opinion,
“this approach is severely limited by its inability to realize that gendered culture does not inhabit the specialized places of media, family or education, but is rather constructed in all areas of social life.”
Language and Culture
Languages and the variations that exist within languages play a unifying and also a diversifying role in human society entirely. Language is a part of a culture, but culture is complex in its entirety and contains several features. Hence, the relationship between language and culture is crucial.
Language is the main means of human communication and building relations. The first step towards creating a society is through communication. To communicate, a common language is needed. In the absence of language, human beings cannot relate to and understand each other. Through communication, relationships are built, families are built, and the community grows into a bigger society and nation. Hence, language is essential for society and vice versa.