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BIBLIOTECA
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THE STUlDlES
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Thomas luckmantn
THE BOBBS .. MIERfUll COMPANY, iNC"


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permission from the Publisher:
The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc,
4300 West 62nd Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46268
First Edition
First Printing 1975
Llbrary 01 Congress Cataloging in Publication Data_
Luckmann. Thomas.
The sociology 01 language.
(TIle Bobbs-Merrill studies in sociology)
Bibliography: p.
l. SocioUnguislics. 1. Tille.
P40.L8 301.2'1 74-190B5
ISBN 0-672-61262-3
--,-
l/he language
Preface
Introduction
2 The historcal evolution of the problem
3 The nature ot the problem
, a, The diachronic perspective on global structures: language and society in
history
b. The diachronic perspective: language and social bi9graphy
c. The synchronic perspective: interrelation 01 global structures
1. Ecological determinants. of communication
2, Insttutional determinants of communication
3. Linguistic styles or codes evolving in social classes
d. The synchronic perspective: speech act and social situation
4 On the social functions' of language
a. The basic semasiological 1unction
1. On the supra-individual level
2. On the individual level
b. Secondary functions
1. The indicative f.unction
2. The phatic function
5 Bibliographic Postscript on the last five years
6' Selected Readings
'3
1 Introducton
Evidence 01 man's preoccupation with language can be detected even in the early
stages of mythological thought. Various religious systems assign an important role
to language. In Western culture-though not exclusively there-Ianguage
becomes (he object of systematic philosophical inquiry. In the process of division
between philosophy and various emprical sciences, language, like other matters
of interest, eventually becomes the subject of a distinct sclentific discipline. This
discipline has undergone a remarkable development within the last 150 years (E.
Cassirer, 1923; H. Pedersen, 1924). Contemporary linguistlcs not only serves as
a link between the traditonal disciplines of the humanities and the social sciences.
It can be also considered exemplary to the latter in certain respects, such as
descriptive precision and systematic formalization.
The orign of language derives, gene rally, from the social nature 01 mano The
existence and the functioning of ..jtlELCbanges-theY-UD-ciB[go_a[e
cl-s-.eJy.Jiol<ed..lo-cor:lcrete-social.-str.uctbJres-. and ...thadynamic-1lat!Q.mUleJ.'Mgen._

presupposes-in addition to the necessary physiological prerequisites of speech
--':-a of human behavor. Human conduct is based on the reciproc-
ity crliace-to-fa;;e-relatiQs\vhicfi-permits the development of stable social typifica-
tions. These are concretely expressed in the varied forme o family organization.
of cooperation and of the division of labor.
that are
These, in
_.if!cJlY.!.gy-Ls. thereby
-"On the otherhild:-onecanl,fdly'concehe'of human
and the existence of sOCaT structures without language. The sciaHzation of indi-
vidual consciousooss -a-;;-dthe
.. occur cOl1cretely Wilhin a- Kstonc] 's"crar-
strlfcture and, at the same time, within a specific historicallanguage. Man's action
in society cannot be traced back to specific genetic characteristics, nor can it be
wholly explained in terms 01 external behavioral constraints. No doubt the ability
to speak presupposes specific genetical attributes. and social actjon s determined
by institutional controls, among other things. The motivaton-L-Q.rJlfu<t.oLacting,
..s
nti .?f.lJ.9ng
l. .. -foremost. The .. value-
that of The transmissjon of
a culture over the generatjons takes place mainly through processes ot direct
7
communication. The individual gans access to culture-and thereby to society,
which he experiences as a structure of patterns ot meaning and behavior that he
takes largely tor granted-mainly by way of language. A specitic cognitive "style"
of a society and of a social stratum is transmitted in the process of socializaton
by means_Qtlru1..Q.!J9gf}. In the course 01 an a
strongly habitualized subjective style of thought and experience, a kind of "inner
language". The biographical dimensions of language thus co-determine social
action in lingustically articulated patterns .of motivation and in the definitions ot
stuations.
Apart from its mediated functions in an ndividual's biography,
an immediately importan! role in s.Q.QiaLac.tans. Linguistic communications and
interchanges trigger nonlinguistic interactions or substitute tor them. In view of the
interdependence of social structure. culture and language that was brought out by
this preliminary outline, it comes as a surprise to discover how superficial soci-
ology's interest in language has been until the reeent past. Indeed, this disinterest
poses an interesting problem for the sociology ol knowledge and science. The
notion of the interpenetration of social structure, culture and language which has
become a basic tenet of philosophica,1 anthropology, has remained a largely un-
clarified axiom of the empirical social sciences. T o be sure, lip service is paid to
this axiom in most textbooks of sociology and cultural anthropology. The attempt
to arrive at a precise formulation of this phenomenon and to provide an explana-
tory causal analysis for Jt is, however, only in its beginning stage8. Yet such an
attempt would certainly have to be listed among the most important tasks for
theory and emprical research in sociology, social psychology, and cultural anthro-
pology. . ,
Several of the social seienees have already, unwittingly, touched upon questions
01 the sociology of language. It hardly needs t be mentioned that the sociology
of knowledge depends on an analysis of linguistic forms in which thought ano
knowledge beco me socially sedimented. If ths discipline has not progressed satis-
factorily (apart from excursions into ideological crittcism) the explanation most
likely should be 80ught in an insufficient groundng in the sociology Qf.language.
Though the link between the sociology of religon and the sociolofjY of language
appears to be less direct, this ls due mainly to the fact that the socio!ogy of reUgion,
by and large. naively accepts the lnguistic basis of the socially molded symbolic
words of religions.
On the other hand, the importance of the questions raised by the sociology of
language far the sociology of literature is immediately apparent. The uses accruing
from a further development of the sociology of language to opinon research and
the sociological analysis of mass media, propaganda, etc., as well as family soci-
ology (tor analyzing secondary socialization processes as welr as choice of an
adaptation to marriage partners) hardly needs to be stressed. Other speeialized
disciplines among the social scienees have already raised questions related to the
problems of the sociology of language. To menton sorne: the theory of social
control and social stratification, political sociology (the problem of nationalism),
and sociologically oriented psychiatry. The fundamental significance of language
tor sociological theory is thus enhanced by a score of questions pertaining
8
to the sociology of language whch have been raised by a variety of neighboring
sub-disciplines.
Nevertheless, in the past sociology of language has not gained the status of a
major soeiologieal discipline. This is due in part to the faet that neither general
social problems (as in the case 01 family sociology). nor immediate institutional
needs (as in industrial sociology or the sOciology of religion and the ehurches) add
pragmatic relevance to theoretii::al interest. In part, the reason for this IS the fact
that the pertinent theoretical questions were relegated to linguistics. A sociology
of language with concepts equally applicable to sociological and linguistic theory
and with a body of hypotheses systematically ordered as well as capable of
meaningtul operationalization does not exist as yet. Several attempts in that diree-
tion (by J. Bram, 1955; A. Capell, 1966; M. eohen, 1956; J. O. Hertzler, 1965) must
be considered unsatisfactory. Yet the history of philosophieal and scientific preoe-
cupations with language oHers important contrbutions which eould be used to
advantage in the theory-formation of the sociology of language. In various
branches of science-from psychology to the various philologies-a great number
of relevant research reports has aecumulated. After a number of rather laborious
initial attempts (some of which date back several decades) a renewe'd interest in
problems 01 the sociology of language has developed in recent years. Some
promising new departures have .been made, and there can be no doubt that
continuous increase in scientific activity is taking place in this field. (S. Lieberson,
1966; W. Bright, 1966b; J. Fishman, 1968). Sociology is thus belatedly tollowing
a comparable but earlier development which appeared in cultural anthropology (H.
Hoijer, '1954; O.H. Hymes, 1964c; J.J. Gumperz and O.H. Hymes. 1964).
If the stage 01 development of the sociology of language thus cqnnot yet bear
comparison to other sociological sub-disciplines (such as the sociology of stratifi-
eation and social mobility) the cumulation of research is beginning and a system-
atic theory is at least in sight. I shall attempt first to present those scientific
tradtions that have led to a slow crystallization of the problem in the sociology of
language. Following this, I shall describe the present situation of the problem,
drawing on the theoretical endeavors and research findings in sociology and its
neighboring disciplines, Finally, I shall try to formulate the social functions of
language in a fashion which make it possible to locate the questions, and perhaps
also some of the answers. of the socology of language in a larger framework of
sociological theory.
2 The Historical Evolution
___.,..
From its origins Western ..
relevant question ter the sociology of
language concerning the relationship
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ever, only began to evolve duri.':!R!!lJL6./:massance....Giambattista Vico approached
ffiequestlOndrectly, Anthony Ashley Cooper Shaftesbury obliquely. It runs
through the thought of Johann Georg Hamann and Johann Got1fried Herder anQ
finds systematc treatment in the worl< of Wilhelm von Humboldl. The historical
attempts at a clearer articulation of the problem are closely interwoven with other
movements in the hstory of ideas (E. Cassirer, 1923). be .
only in r,elationJoJb- ,dlsJ.luJ,.

,,- __ of
ndividua"lcos-Cfo'sness"ana the
procsse's'.1-the'''iner'speech-firm,'-6bJectivates a world view and, as von Hum-
b'alar poits out most explicitly in the introduction to his book on Kawi language,
decisively influences individual thought and action.
2
The continuing importance of
von Humboldt's work in the shaping of linguistic theory, particularly in Germany,
cannot be overshadowed by the shorter-lived successes of opposing movements
of thought both in the 19th and the 20th centuries. Without specifying von Hum-.
boldt's influence in detail 1 would lil<e to draw attention to the
"school" in contemporary linguistics. (H. Basilius. 1952). Leo Weisgerber, who can
be considered the dean 01 the Neo-Humboldtian school in linguistics, sees lan-
guage as an "intermediate world" which enables the individual to grasp reality by
way of linglJistically mediated objects of subjectve experience (L. Weisgerber,
1953). The perspectivism of human acton and thought is rooted in the fact that
reality s mediated by language. Different views of reality are concretely'deter-
mined by the different structures of .Ianguages. These can be seen as socially
solidified patterns of "documentations of positions" that were taken in the past
with regard to reality (P. Hartmann. 1959). These past "positions" steer current
"positions" of members in a language community. An analysis of the linguistic
fields of a language reveals that the structure of these patterns is divided into
"fields" (G. Ipsen, 1924, 1932; J. Trier, 1932; W. Porzig, 1934; L. Weisgerber,
1953; for a detailed review see S. Oehmann, 1953).
The various :groups, .s.trata,_
s9cietiesJead ,to differences.in the .character _acd
the ,c1jfferemt,itipf.LQUeality,. T o .VLexampJfl,S __ .
..
starlit sky tor the and tor the- Chinese,..or
dweIJer;' the -L
arld-fortFle'farmer;'the reflected in theJL1f)gu!,!ge_91"
fe Navajo; the diverse QJ ,the,Jopography of, lheir
-, '" "- .- -. ,-:.- ."' - '-.-- .... _-
1. "Language Is not an independent productlon of one individual only, but always belongs
lo the whole natlon; 'ji Is there Ihal new generalons receive language Irom forefathers.
lo language the various opinions of every age, generaUon, raok, characler, and mlnd 01 a people,
a nalion, and finally of the whole human raee are blended, aod in Ihe shifls of words: and
languages eo ncreasing oi all mankind language
between subjectivity and objectivlty, between a necessanly limitad IndlVlduahly and an all-embraclng
being." (W. von Humboldt. 1820-1822: 24),
2. "Although created by nations, languages dominate their creators, thay keep nations prsoners
in a determnate circle and constitule or. at the v6ry bes, indicale the particularlty 01 national
character." (W. von Humboldt, 1820-22: 313).
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environment by people of different dialects; the difterent distinctons of .
'_.. . -",., . .' "-".,,- ,. ...
"Alihou-ghvon Humboldt's influence is particularly strong in German philology, it
s by no means restricted to that area. Von Humboldt's concept of language
imprinted itself upon an intellectual tradition which extends from classical phlology
to romanticismo In this context, the relevant contributions to linguistic and cultural
history by Karl Vossler should be mentioned, in particular his work on the relation-
ship between language. language community and "civilization" (1929) and the
in1erdependence of language, natonalism and religion (1932). The studes on style
by Leo Spitzer show an acute percepton of social interconnections (1928, 1931,
1948). His research in historical semasiology is an exemplary achievement in the
dachronic socology of language. Also the 01 Walter Porzig (1950) and
Bruno Snell (1952) contain important contributions toward a clarification 01 the
functions of language. Within the framework of semantc history. Snell's studies
on the development of Greel, thought (1955) show the reciprocal influence be-
tweeh language and the development of consciousness,
The traditon of linguistcs which was influenced by von Humboldt's notions of
the relationship between "inner speech form" and world view has been mainly
presented in the garb of German philosophical idealism. Despite efforts to provide
a firmer methodological foundation tor a combined "energetic" (process-oriented)
and "content-orienfed" approach to language, this tradition was gene rally re-
jeeted, ignored or pushed aside by the various schools of structuralism, which until
recently constituted the mainstream of modern Iinguistics and which were
predominently "ant-mentalistic" and concerned with pllonology. Only recently has
a possible convergence of these two schools beco me concevable. The foremost
theoretcal presupposii1ons (in linguistic theory as well as in the methodology of
science) of descriptive structuralism have begun to weaken. The consequences
of this reorientation, triggered mainly by Noam Chomsky (1957), are not yet fore-
seeable (cf. J.J. Katz, 1964; E. Bach, 1966; M. Bierwisch, 1966; U. Weinreich,
1966). In ths connection American cultural anthropologsts and anthropological
linguists appear to have overcome a certain provinciallsm characteristic of previ-
ous generations of American structuralists. Also significant IS the fact that "struc-
turalist" methods have been successfully combined with major elements of Hum-
boldtian concepts of language in a number of recent publications. 1 am mainly
referring to the theory of semantics developed by Stephen Ullmann (1951, 1962).
Hans Glinz's analysis of the "inner form" of German (1952) and Helmut Gipper's
work (1959, 1963).
It IS not ditficult to discern that this linguistic tradition has much to offer to the
sociofogy of language, The sociologist is led to reformulate I,sy conceptions of this
tradition in the following theses. Realms of meaning and fields wthin one language
tha1 have dfferent structures can be traced to differentiated nterests and life-
patterns 01 ecologically and socio-historical1y determined groups, institutions, and
strata as well as generatons within which the communication processes of a
language community take place. Theoretically, it al so makes sense to assume that
the "inner forms" of different languages are generally based on the long-term
worl<ings of social-structural conditions as these have affected the history of a
language, or a language communty. It is, however, much more difficult to
11
translate these assumptions into more specific working hypotheses.1l is a long and
difficult way from the point where one can discern (ad hoe) specifie struetural
eonditions for specific linguistic proeesses and forms to the point where one can
develop a systematic theory on the relationship between social structure and
language. Nevertheless, the sociology of language has produeed a continuous!y
growing number of studies on the differentaton of linguistic fields and realms (ef.
the bibliography in S. Oehmann, 1953: 125 and P. Znsli n,o.), The systematie
analysis of the cumulative effects of social-struetural eonditions on the composi-
tions of linguistic fields and realms can only be made after an evaluatlon of such
studies by a historieaUy oriented sociology of 1anguage. It will be lhe task of a
synchronically oriented sociology of language, on the other hand, to investigate
the scope and direetion of the influence of a tal<en-for-granted "inner speech
form" on socialization. role acUng and the understanding of self and reality. An-
other promising research area will have to deal wlth questions coneerning the
influence of the differentiated "distribution" of realms and fields of meaning on
customary behavior. aetion patterns and institutionally determined definitions of
situations within a soeiety.
Although the influence of von Humboldt's concept of language on a major
intellectual tradition in linguistics has been considerable. it would be inadvisable
to speak of it as an organized "school". The same can be said about structuraHsm,
the leading approach in modern linguistics. Only on the surface do these trends
appear consolidated. The mere attempt of a short deseription of the main sources .
of structuralism from the "Neo-Grammarians", J. Baudouin de Courtenay and
Ferdinand de Saussure. to the Prague and Copenhagen "circles" and the genera-
tion of American linguists marked by the imprnt of Leonard Bloomfield would go
far beyond the scope of this essay (eL H. Pedersen, 1924; E, Cassirer. 1923; J.B.
1952; J. Vachek, 1964; N.S. Trubetzl<oy, 1964; also A.R. Debold, 1964).
Nevertheless, it is important to note that the different positions of structuralism
have in eommon: 1) the rejection of conceptions of language followng organismic
analogies; 2) strict formatization of deseriptive research (partieularly in phonology
and morphology) based on the definifion of phonemes as smallest signjficant units
of linguistic analysis; 3) the need of delimitation against psyehology; and 4) efforts
to overcome the conventional "philologcal" restricton to literary languages. For-
mal structuralism, consistent with positivistic and behavioristic thinking, insists on
a radical severance of language, considered as an "autonomous" system, from
its psychological presuppositions and social foundation (cf. L. Bloomfield, 1933;
L. Hjelmslev. 1943).
For the clarification of the concept of language as a system linguistics is greatly
indebted to Ferdinand de Saussure (1915). According to de Saussure the meaning
of linguistic signs is determined by their positional value in the sign-system. A
heuristic bracketng ot the total psychological and social situation in whch the sign
system functions is therefore permissible. The analysis of the signreJations con-
sidered in Isolation is the of the lnguistique interne. De Saussure who was
'strongly influenced by Emile Durkheim (cf. Doroszewski. 1933) never overlool<ed
12
the social character of language, however. and specifically stressed its peculiq,r
position among "social institutions",3 Linguistic signs make their appearance in
social situations. Though a subjeet matter of the linguistique interne in their internal
linguistic signs beco me the subject matter of semiology which
de Saussure regarded as an essential part of social psychology. He asserted that
the "linguistic problem" was primarily a semiological problem (F. de Saussre,
1955: 34). He granted. the faet that semiology, as. he conceived of it. did not yet
exist, but believed that jt was destined to close a gap in the social sciences (1955:
33). It is clear that de Saussure's Durkheimian conception of semiology coincides
largely with the scope of a sociology of language. It is interesting 10 note that major
tenets of de Saussure's sign theory have a close correspondence with the semiot
es of Charles W. Morris (1938, 1946) which have been of considerable signifi-
canee in the recent history of American science. Morris was directly influenced by
sch divergent sources as C.S. Peirce, George H. Mead and the "Venna circle".
Another outstanding linguist of the "Geneva School", Charles BaBy, took an ap-
proach to language similar to de Saussure. He, too. considered language as a
social institution, but an institution that forms a closed system: it first must be
analyzed without reference to psychologieal or sociologieal "quasi-explanations".
The linguistic contributions of J. Vendryes (1923) are founded on similar .general
assu m ptlons.
Durkheim was also the source of other impulses toward a sociology of language.
His interest in the problem of social integration led him from a morphology of social
structure to the investigation of the forms of collective eonsciousness sustained
by these structures. While his attention was primarily drawn to the problem of moral
cohesion versus anome and, thus, to religion, he did not fail to see the importanee
of language in the stabilization of consciousness in social processes.
4
Research
on the interdependence of social structure and forms of symbolic thought and
representatons directed the attention of Durkheim (as well as his collaborators
and students) toward language constructs in which forms of thinl<ing harden and
beeome binding for the individual. Emile Durkheim and Mareel Mauss' study on the
social basis of primitive forms of elassification (1901/1902) and the worl< ot Mau-
rice Halbwachs (1925. 1950) on the social basis and collective determination of
memory touch upon questions of immediate concern to the sociology of language
(also cf. M.M. Lewis, 1947). On the other hand, the very absence of a well-founded
linguistic paradigm in his sociological views of language apparently enticed Durk-
heim to proceed, in his theories, rather too abruptly from models of social structure
to highly complex symbolie categories (cf. A.R. Diebold, 1964: 259; R. Knig, 1967:
3. "We have just seen Ihat language is a social inslltulion; but several features sel il aparl
from other politica!, legal, etc. institutions." (Ferdinand de Saussure, 1959: 15).
4. "There is more: without language, we would no! hav6, so lo speak, general ideas; lar
il is the word which. in fixing Ihem, gives to concepts a consistency sufficient lar them to be
able to be handled conveniently by the mind. It is language, then, that has allowed us to raise
ourselves aboye pure sensalion; and il is not necessary lo demonstrale Ihat language s, in
Ihe lirsl degree, a social thing." (Emile Durkheim, 1956: 77).
13
312f.). Nonetheless it must be admUed that ths approach proved to be an inspira-
tion for ethnologcally and linguistically more sophsticated research on similar
problems, e.g., in the work of ClaLida Lvi-Strauss (1962). .
Antoine Meillet, who joined the staft of the Anne Sociofogque as referree for
linguistics upon Durl<heim's invitation, published his own study on the change of
meaning in that journal (1905-06). Following Durkheim's criteda he, too, conceives
of language as a social phenomenon which transcends individual conscousness
(exterorit a l' ndvldu) and coerces (coerciton) the individual. According to Meil-
. let, the explanaton tor the change of meaning in language has to be sought in
social processes and he proceeds to suggest several specific socio-linguistic
hypotheses, among them one which proposes that the contraction and expansion
of meaning depends on specifiable characteristics of the social group in which
these processes of change occur. Meillet takes tar granted that the stock of words
within a language community Is socially distributed and differentiated, a view that
was by no means considered obvious before the recent growth of the sociology
of language . .5 Durl<heim's influence is also clearly observable in Marcel Granet's
studies on Chinese thought patterns (1934), notably in his attempt to interpret
categories of space and time in Chinese culture and language in a sociological
perspective. The wark of Alf Sommerfelt (1962a) is another example 01 Durl<l)eim's
ntluence on linguistics. The Durl<heimMauss essay drectly inspired and moti-
vated Sommerfelt's analyss ol the interdependence of language and social struc-
ture among the Australian Arunta (1938; cf. also 1954). According to Sommerfelt
that interdependence resulted in a certain parallelism of social structure, cognitive
organizaton and language categores.
Despite the promising prospects tor a sociology of language along Durkheimian
Hnes of thought, des pite the penetration ot Durkheim's influence in linguistics (W.
Doroszewski, 1933; A Sommerfelt 1924 (1962) and 1932 (1962), despite the
continuity of the Durkheimian tradition in French cultural anthropology which joins
Durkheim to Mauss and both to Lvi-Strauss (d. M. Merleau-Ponty, 1959) there
emerged no Durl<heim-oriented sociology 01 language. Marcel Cohen, one of the
most distinguished French linguists, with many linl<s to the Durkheim. tradition in
sociology, a colleague of Mellet, the linguistic co-editor of (he third series of the
Anne Sociologique presents himself, theoretically, as a historical materialist. His
bool, Pour une Sociologe du Langage (1956} which provides a wealth of factual
and bibliographical information of considerable use to the sociologist of language,
develops neither a Durkheimian nor an otherwise systematc sociology of lan-
guage.
Another source of theoretical efforts and emprical research that was mportant
in the formulation of promising perspectives tor the sociology ot language was that
school of thought in American social psychology which was 610sely linl<ed to
sociology especially with the work of Charles H. Cooley-and whose main philo-
sophical inspiration came from pragmatism, from Charles S. Peirce, William James
and John Dewey. The founding father of this theoretical tradition, George H. Mead
(1934), developed a highly original theory of socialization which stressed, in con-
5. l/A language. given as such. contains as many specal vocabularjes as hare are autonomous
social groups in the society to which Iha! language belongs." (A. Meillet, 1948: 251).
14
vincing and detailed analyses, the role of communicative processes for the devel-
opment of individual consciousness and personality structure. Following Mead an
increasing number of American sociologists and social psychologists has begun
to examine the functions of communicative processes tor the socialization of
children, as well as for the learning of role patterns, for the stabilizaton of conduct,
tor the evolution of self-images, etc. "Symbolic Interactionists" and Meadian "role-
theorists", as well as sociologists and social psychologists somewhat less directly
influenced by Mead, have generally proven to be more open to problems directly
linked to the interests of the sociology of language than those coming from differ-
ent traditions (cf. C.W. Milis, 1939, 1940; J.H.S. Bossard, 1943, 1945; F. Elkin,
1946; A. Strauss, 1959; E. Goffman, 1959; R.R. Wohl and A. Strauss, 1958; M.B.
Scott and S.M. Lyman, 1968). To gain greater precision, future research concern-
ing the influence of role- and class-determined repertoires on social behavior and
self-images will have to make more extensive use 01 lnguistic and "ethnolinguis-
tic" methods. while remaining true to the significant questions about human com-
munication, consciousness and self that were raised by Mead and his followers.
In European psychology the nterest in language never completely disappeared
from the scene, as witnessed by the worl< of Wilhelm Wundt, and later Karl Buehler
(1934) and Fredrich Kainz (1954). While traditional associative psychology re-
mainad basically useless for problems with which the sociology 01 language is
concerned, the work of Jean Piaget on the relationship between language and
thought processes offers a contribution to the understanding of the lnguistic-
cognitive level of socialization (1926,.1950) the signficance 01 which is not yet
entirely historica!. Piaget's theory has been partly revised and partly added to by
the brilliant research on speech and thought conducted by Lev Semonovic Vy-
.. gotsky (1934, 1939) who clearly established their early genetic independence.
Vigotskyalso criticized Piaget's notion of an egocentric phase in relation to la n-
guage acquisition and showed the social character of both cognitive and linguistic
development.
The behavioristic theory of learning, long predominant in the United States, had
almost nothing in common with eilher linguistics ar the probJems of the sociology
of language (cf. A.A. Diebold, 1964). The attempt to bridge the gap between
individual and social psyehology by way 01 an "interbehavioral" theory of language
(N.H. Pronko, 1946; S1. C. Ratner, 1957) never 8eems to have evolved beyond the
programmatic 8tage. Only recently has a genuina rapprochement between linguis-
ties and psychology taken place. It is evidenced by the emergence of an interdisci-
plinary lield of research, psycholinguistics. Now that the neglected problem of the
relationship between language and thought has been taken up agan in academic
psycho!-:Jgy,the development of psycholnguistics has become of considerable
nterest to the sociology of language. The first moves in this direction came mainly
from several neobehaviorists, who recognized the futility 01 conventional behav-
oristic learning theory for an understanding of speech and language (cf. G.A.
MiIler, 1951 and G.A. Miller, 1965). Further impulses emanated from cognitive
psychologists interested in a lingustically more sophisticated approach to their
work in cognltion (d. R.W. Brown, 1956). The strongest mpetus to the emergence
of psycholinguistcs was probably given by the increasing contaets of some s y ~
chologists (John B. Carroll in the begnnng, then Roger W. Brown, Eric H. Len-
15
neberg and others) with anthropological linguistics (ethnolinguistics) precisely at
Ihe time when an ardent debate on the relationship between language, culture, and
thought was ta!dng place in this discipline (c1. J.B. Carroll, 1953; R.W. Brown and
EH. Lenneberg, 1954; E.H. Lenneberg, 1953). Sorne of the research results rele-
vant to the sociology of language will be mentioned later in the systematc presen-
tation. The excellent review of this development by A. Richard Dibold (1964)
should be immediately mentioned, however, as should the volumes of collected
reports on the state of research (Ch. E. Osgood and Th. H. Sebeok, 1954; S.
Saporta, 1961. Cf. also the article of Hans J. Hummel in the Handbuch der Em-
pirischen Sozialforschung, Vol. /1).
In contradistinction to psychology, cultural anthropology never lost ts theoretical
congern with and research interest in language. Even before a systematic articula-
tion of the question how language, culture and social structure are linked together,
languages of primitive societies were nvestigated to gain insight into their culture
-quite apart from the obvious nterest in one of the culture's main components.
The analysis of languages in close connection with the analysis of culture looks
bacl< on an unbroken tradition in the French ethnological school, in the English
school of social anthropology, from Bronislaw Malinowski to E.E. Evans-Pritchard
and John R. Firth. in Continental "Vll,erkunde" and the American cultural anthro-
pology where, in this context. the dominant figure of Franz Boas should be particu-
larly mentioned. (n addition to this general work on language and culture specific
questions of immediate interest to the sociology 01 language were occasionally
raised in these anthropological traditions, tor example, the problem ot specal
languages (B.A. van Gennep, 1908) and language taboos (D. Westermann, 1939).
The theoretically more ambitious ques1ion of the relationship between language
and world view, however, was not po sed seriously again until about. 100 years after
. it had been raised by van Humboldt. Interestingly enough, t was in American
cultural anthropology where interest in this question was reawal<ened. Edward
Sapir, in particular, kept up interest in the question at a time when structuralism
(as defined by Bloomfield) very definitely turned its bacl< on it. Sapir did not support
the view that language determines culture and the personality of ts speakers
without reservations. More precisely he vaccillated between extreme and modified
formulations of this view. Neverthe[ess, he asserted time and again the importance
of language for the social objectivation of a world view and a conception of realty.6
His ethnological and linguistie work reflects this basic theoretical position (1921,
1929; eL also D.G. Mandelbaum, 1949). Sapir's student Benjamin Lee Whorf, on
the other hand, evidently based on a strong version of Sapir's view the assumption
that thought and culture are linguistically determined. Using material trom the Hopi
language and culture, he tried to trace the linguistic roots in the Hopi conceptions
of space, time and eausality, as well as the infJuence of sueh concepts on specific
behavior patterns (1956). No doubt Whorf had tal<en up many of Sapir's notions,
which, in turn, can be traced back to von Humbold. Furthermore, he was not the
only one to propound this view of language. Dorothy O. Lee had reached similar
6: "Language is a gulde lo social realily . . . human beings do nol Uve n the objecliva
world alona, nor alane in Ihe worid 01 social aclivily as ordlnarily understood bu! are vary much
al Ihe merey al Ihe particular l<'lnguage which has become Ihe medium 01 exprassion of their
sociely." (E. Sapir. 1929: 207).
16
eonclusions independently of Whorf, while working on Wintu language and culture
(1938, 1944, 1950, 1959). It was Whorf's trenchant formulation of this position,
however. which provoked the heated scientific debate of the fifties (H. Hoijer,
1954), the ramfications of which still continue to influence the current state of
ethnolnguistics. Against Whorf's position various kinds of objections were soon
raised. Among them were: a) the customary phildsophical criticism against the
presuppositions of "relativistic" theses in general (M. Blacl<, 1959); and, b) accusa-
tions of tautology, sinee Whorf's conclusions on the relationship between lan-
guage, culture and thought were all exclusively based on linguistic evidence (J.H.
Greenberg, 1954; RL Miller, 1968).
On the other hand, attempts were also made to systematize and further develop
the Sapir-Whorf position, The crudely deterministic elements were to be separated
from the relativistic elements of the "theory", and empirically testable hyp01heses
were to be fermulated on the basis 01 the latter (E.H. Lenneberg, 1953; H Hoijer.
1954; F. Fearing, 1954; J.T. Watefman, 1957; G.L. Trager,' 1959; R.P. Gastil. 1959;
J.A. Fishman, 1960). A certain influence of linguistic-cultural categories on percep-
tions (A.J.Hallowell, 1951). memory (L. Doob, 1957), etc., could hardly be dened.
That human processes of thought were generally influeneed by syntactic and
semantie structures-even though thnldng and speaking are not identical (L.S.
Vygotsky. 1962}-was hardly ever seriously questioned. It also makes sense to
presuppose a certain affinity between a specific language and a specific culture
if the two were lnked with each other for a long perlod of time.
There remain, however, questions of immediate interest to 1he sociology of
language which have not been satisfactorily answered in this dispute. One such
question concerns the exact amount of influence whieh language exerts on con-
duet, thinking and judgement. Another reters to the specfication of levels of
linguistic structures involved in these processes. Still others pertain to the kind of
differences (if any) that exist between different languages and cultures in the
d'egree of their interdependence. Furthermore, are there levels of reality-percep-
tion which are Jluniversal", and others which differ according to a specific lan-
guage? In order to determine the validity of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, one first
must make a distinction between linguistie structure as such and culturally regu-
lated use of language, between "collective" cultural objectivations and their "indi-
vidual" subjective actualization, between perceptual discrimination and habitual
experience (el. D .. Hymes, 1964c: 117).
The most striking achievements in this direction were made on the level of
experiences that are direetly linl<ed to perception (mainly perception ot eolors).
Sophstcated research designs were developed in this area (R.W. Brown and E.H.
Lenneberg, 1954; E. H. Lenneberg and J.M. Roberts, 1956; R.W. Brown, 1957; H.
Maclay. 1958; cf., also H.C. Conl<lin, 1955 and J. St. Goodman, 1963). Although
they are definitely not irrelevant, these achevements are of subordinate interest
for the general theoretical problem of the relatonship between culture and lan-
guage. On the level of perception-linked habitual experience the role of language
and the role of a specifie language as factors in directing attention and motivating
habituation can be demnstrated. However, the analysis ef the influence of Ilnguis-
tic structures on eomplex thought processes, sueh as causal reasoning and cul-
tural semantic configurations (taxonomes, cosmological representations, etc.),
17
still faces extraordinary difficulties in .methodology and teCh.nique. The
"evidence" and "counter-evidence" pertaining to the Saplr-Whorf vlew of lan-
guage and culture are difficult to evaluate (ct. H, Hoijer, 1951; C.F. ando F.M.
Voegelin, 1957; Sto Olamond. 1960; A. Capell, 1960; R.W. Westcott, 1960.' A.C.
Mahr, 1961, 1962; M. Mathiot, 1962; R.L. Miller, 1968). However, even. In the
current state of the debate (cf. R.P. Gastil, 1959; O. Hymes, 1.961b) IS hope
that the diHiculties facing these inquiries-which are of considerable Importance
to the sociology of language-will not remain
The debate that was triggered by Whorf and the empmcal research undertaken
in its wake were instrumental in freeing the study of narrow
confines imposed on it by descriptive structuralism: Attentlon In IIngUlstlcs was
again devoted to problems also of considerable interest to and
psychology. Even epistemology, linguistic theory and anthropo*
logical research were no longer kept in complete Isotabon from each other. The
fascination with the "theory", which claimed that culture and thought were deter-
mined by linguistic structures, however, had another and less tempo:ary
consequence. It led to a one-sided view of "causal" and "functlonal"
h'ps of "social" structure, culture and language in which the pOSSlblhty 6f the
drection 01 "causality" or "functional dependen ce" was at first neglecte?
Nobodywill question the assumpton that linguistic
processes. But in the face of lingustic stresslng dlrectlon of
influence this assumption needs to be translated Into more speclflc
on the basis of the objective structure ot sign
this is psychological attempts at of speclflc hngulstlc
processes (for example, the "laws" of analogy) can. clalm. .than
lausibility. It is difficult to estmate how much the vanous disciplines Investlgatlng
psychological basls of linguistic as, tor developmental
psychology, the psychiatric st.udy of (ef. K. and E.C,
Carterette, 1966), schizophrenla (J.S. Kasamln, 1944), and braln (E.C.
Carterette, 1964) will contribute to firm theoretcal of th.ls Nor
can one confidently predict how much the djfferent theoretlcal from
phenomenology to {neo-)behaviorism, will offer to understandlng the
nature of the psychologcal determination of IIngulstlc processes and structures
and to the measurement of the degree of this determination ..
Questions which are of a more immediate concern tor of language
are those that deal with the influence of culture, the socIal dlstnbutlon o!
edge, and social structure on linguistic forms, styles, language use and
change. In recent years. lnterest in these que:.:ions has at an
rateo A number of studies to which I shal1 return In the systematlc part of thls study
indicate the wide range of problems facing the sociology ot language (cf., espe-
cially, D. Hymes, 1964; J.J. Gumperz and D. Hymes, 1964; H.G. Smith, 1966; W.
Bright, 1966a; J. Fishman. 1968). It should be added that the problems of the
7 "What must be the fundamental anthropological contribution lo any semiotic disclplln?
the empifical field study of systems of sgns in systems 01 use, seems tos.t from
(Del! Hymes. 1964b) and: "The sociolnguist's task Is Ihen to show the systematlc
af Hnguistc struc!ure and parhaps eIJen lo show a causal relalloflshp In
cne drection or the olher. (Wllham Bnght. 196Gb).
18
sociology of language touch on sorne aspects of mass-communication analysis
and smnll.group research. Specialists in "content analysis" were extremely slow
to grasp the variegated dependence of "content" on lingustc forms. On the other
hand. linguistic analyses about the role of mass media in the levellng of regional
and class dialects all too otten are done in blthe ignorance of more systematic
sociological approaches. Small group research provided formal evidence for the
stability of communication patterns in specific situations. Much worl< remains to be
done, however, in the description and explanation of continuty and change of
aCtual speech-styles and styles of acton within such matrices. This should prove
a fertile field for "micro-analytic" research in the sociology of language.
3 The Natura of the Problem
The views of Wilhelm von Humboldt on the relationship between language and
world view, the theory of Emile Ourl<hem on the influence of social structure on
cultural configurations, and the arguments of George H. Mead on the role of
communcation in socialization processes can be regarded as classical statements
on the various perspectives in which language appears to be of utmost significance
in the emergence and survivaJ of human societes. The further development and
specification of these statements in linguistcs, the philological disciplines, cultural
anthropology and social psychology form the background from whch the problems
of a sociology of language slowly began to emerge as questions that called tor
treatment in' a sociological context.
Research in the other disciplines concerned with language is of course deter-
mined by the specific interests and the conceptual framework of their theoretical
traditions; on the other hand, research in sociology of language in any strict sense
of the term is sml in its earlystages. In order to arrive at a meaningful description
of the range of questions that constitute what may be called a sociology of lan-
guage, it will be, therefore, necessary to do several things simultaneously. The
questions which are central to the sociology of language may or may not have
been central to the disciplines in which they have been originally [aised. Hence it
IS not enough to have traced briefly the derivation 01 these questions from the
theoretical traditions of disciplines that were historically most directly involved in
the study of language. It is also necessary to explcate the connection which these
questons have with general social theory.
Language as a system-Ia langue in contradistnction to la paro/e, to use the
terminology of Ferdinand de Saussure-is a term at the same level 01 abstraction
as that of social structure culture. Language is a supra-individual structure, in
Durkheim's terms it is a social fact. But language Is not identical with social
structure and culture. Social structure can be regarded as eilher a system of
actions or institutions depending on one's theoretical perspective. Only limited
aspects of a language-and then only under special conditions-become subject
to direct institutional control, e.g., or the linguistic "Iegislation" of
19
the Acadmie Francaise. Only occasionally do they become more or less definitive
and self-sufficient components of institutional processes, e.g., ritual performances,
At any rate, language is not primarily an element of the institutional structure; nor
does language as a system perform the limited functions of a specialized institu-
tional sphere,8 Furthermore, language is not a "part" (sub-system) of culture or
world view. Incidentally, world view is understood here as that subjectively mean-
ingful configuration of elements that ls typically derived and "selected" from the
culture by a typical individual member of a society. Language is more directly
rooted in the bio-physical nature of man than ls culture, Language is also but one
\
\ or several formal structures, although the most important one, in which culture
\ becomes objectivated: Language is than culture as
" a whole. It also is more obviously and mtlmately hnked to the individual. Language
plays a central part in the of and social
transmission of such thought, value, and attltude conflguratlons as have a rele-
vanee and validty that goes beyond individual experience. The autonomy of lan-
guage is of a different kind than that of an institutional sphere. for example. the
political. within the social structure, or a cultural pattern of ideas (e.g., monotheism)
within the culture, It matters little whether the relationships of language, culture and
social structure are interpreted "functionally" or historically and causally: language
cannot be compared in either view to the internal interdependence of the sub-
systems in culture and social structure, Nor can language be likened to the rela-
tionship of one sub-system, e.g., the economy. to the overall institutional system.
Language is a sign system (cf. F, de Saussure, 1955; A. Schutz, 1955; Ch. W.
Morris, 1938). The basie meaning of a linguistic sign, its signification, is as an
element in a system. It also has "accidenta'" aspects of meaning. These stem
from the socially. culturally and "privately" differentiated relevance systems that
determine the contexts of language use and that originally (in the process .of
language acquisition) determined the sedimentation of experience in individual
biographies as well as the linguistic forms which served to classify and "file away"
such experience. But the elementary signification of a linguistic sign which is
determined by ts position in the supra-individual, quasi-ideal sign-system is rela-
tively independent from ts halo of accidental meanings, The system of signs is a
network of relations that established the connection between sound form and
pattern of experience, as its "reference", as an intersubiectively valid and subjec-
tively intelligible (and "teachable") type/token to type/token relationship (cf. S.
Ullmann, 1951; H, Kronesser. 1952; P. Hartmann, 1959). Saving that a sign-system
"establishes" such a connection is of course merely a figure of speech: this
connection was "established" in past cammunicative acts. Any given sign-system
thus has an a priori character as far as ts speakers are concerned at any given
moment of language use. The semantic scope is fixed by the "Iocation" or the
"positonal value" of the sign within the semantic field (el. J. Trier, 1932; W.
1934; L Weisgerber, 1953, 1954). The relative autonomy of language VIS a VIS
culture and social structure is a necessary presupposition for the independent
internal differentiation of language, Le" the hierarchy of meaning among semantic
8, In the literatura which usually re!ers lo language as an "institution", COl1cept 01 institulion
remains vague (eJ., hOW9ver. F. de Saussure. 1955: 33, also J. Stalin, 1955: 5ft).
20
I
fields and domains and ther systematc retation to grammar and vocabulary and
to their phonological foundation, Ths relative independence of language as well
as the autonomous internal structure of language reinforce the detachment of
"objective" from "subjective" aspects of meaning, Le" the segregation of a com-
mon signfication from idiosyncratic meanings. With respect to individual con-
sciousness language has a quasi-ideal status. In other words, linguistic meaning
as "postional values" in the sign-system remain largely independent of biographi-
cal and situatonal horizons of meaning which envelop semantic "usage" in con.
crete subjective experiences. This quasi-ideal status contans those attributes
which mal<e language a social fact in Durkheim's sense.
9
It. then, it makes sense
to adopt the semasiological aspect as a natural point of departure for a sociology
of language. it should not be overlooked that the phonological structures. too, can
become socially relevant, as, for example, in the concrete processes of speaking
and lstening B.A. Valdman, 1959; W, Labov, 1963, 1966; W.O. Bright and A.K.
Ramanujan. 1964). However, as will be shown later the basie social functions of
language derive from its quasi-ideal status.
The speech-act (la paro/e) is a term on the analyticallevel of the major concepts
of social psychology, Apart from the strict meaning (speech-acts as constitutive
elements of communicative actions), it should be noted that institutionally defined
roles, political roles, professional roles, etc., have characteristic linguistic reper-
toires. Social positions, e.g., class and other status, are marked by distnct styles
of language or other variations of lnguistic codeso A person is institutionally and
"positionally" (Le" by status) socialized in the course of his social biographyto one
or severallinguistic repertoires and to one or several speech styles simultaneously
or consecutively. The use of a particular linguistic repertory or a particular speech
style (e.g" formal instead of intimate) in particular social situations is generally
motivated by the social biography of the persono In addition, the specific use in
specific situations is determined by the reciprocal defnitions of the situation of the
participants, or may be imposed by institutional sanctions, Conversely, in social
situations the linguistic typifications by the participants of each other and of
selves in relation to the others. as well as of the situation tself, are of particular
importance for the possibility and realization of congruent intersubjective defin-
tions of the situation.
One hardly needs to stress the fact that different theoretical traditions will result
in different social-psychological paradigms and research strategies. The linguistic
and, more generally, communicative dimensions 01 social processes, were.
heretofore, mainly the concern of symbolic interactionists and others influenced
by George H. Mead. But at present the most promising line of thought and research
that ls even closer to languag'e (and the concerns of linguists) can be found in
works of those in the field of the ethnography of communcation and speaking (J.J,
Gumperz and D. Hymes, 1964). '
The theoretical distinction between these analytical levels may be of greater
importance to linguistics than to the sociology of language. Nevertheless, this
distinction sets apart complementary aspects of social reality and of the social
9, E.H, Lenneberg (1960) dlscusses the relalion 01 different structural levels ot languaga to
their biologlcal foundatioll, on Ine one hand, and lo culture on Ihe other.
21
............ ____ .. == ______ .. ________________________ 6hl ________________________ " __ aM __ __ ____________ ___ I
reality of language and also has methodological consequences. The c.hoice f
research techniques tor the study of linguistic structure, culture, an? struc-
ture will be dictated by dfferent requirements than those that obtaln In study
of the dynamics of speech-acts in "natural" social situations or under expenmental
TIME-PERSPECTIVE
Level
Synchronic
of Analvsls
Dlachronic
Global
social structure
"functional interdependence" of
Social
culture and language in history
social structure (and institutional.
areas and social classas); cul-
ture (and cultural configurations
af ideas); 8nd language (and lio-
guisUc repertoires, styles.
codes)
Social
cognitiva and lingulstlc develop-
interrelationship of social roles,
Psychological
ment in social biographies
status, motivallonal (relevance)
systems; cognitiva structures;
2nd repertolres, sMes. idiolects
conditions. This means, in sum, that the sociology of at the
time incorporate the contributions and findings of (partlcularly
and semasiology) and cltural anthropology (especlally Ils analyses 01 functlonlng
social institutions and the structure of cultural configurations) well of the
"ethnography of communicaton", social psychology (wherever It shows Interest
in language) and experimental psychology o.f .'
In addition to the distincUon between analytlcallevels It 18 nece.ssary dlfferentl-
ate between two time-related interpretive perspectives. In the
tive the interrelationship of language, culture and society is examined .hlstoncall.
y
.
In this perspective the connection between (analyzed In of
linguistic repertoires and speech styles) and Intemallzed. norms and actlon
tems of a person in social situations is considered
. t'lve the focus is shifted from the historical or blographlcal mterrelatlonshlp
perspec "f r I ' t
of linguistic cultural and social-structural processes to the une I?na -In er-
(or conflict) of these systems. of analytlcal
and interpretive perspectives defines tour malor dlmenslons of In
sociology of language. (See table.) I shall use this typology as ald lO presentlng
a rather heterogeneous body 01 research in an orderly synoptlc
THE DIACHRONIC PERSPECTIVE ON. GLOBAL
STRUCTURES: lANGUAGE AND SOCIETY IN
HISTORV
The level of global social structures is analytically still somewhat heterogeneous.
For the sake of convenience and clarity it will be necessary to make a further
distinction between research on the. most general relation of language to culture
22
and social structures, taken in an encompassing sense, and worl< on various
subsystems such as institutions, dasses, ethnic, professonal and other subcul-
tures; (class-codes, institutional repertoires, dialects, etc.) In Ihe dachronic per-
spective, the problem on the highest level of abstraction thus cfearly concems the
phylogenetic interdependence of social organization, culture and language.
From time immemoraJ man has pondered the differences between communica-
tion among animals and human language. But only in recent decades did detalled
studes on the communication systems of non-human species permit a systematic
clarificaton of these differences (Ch. F. Hockett, 1959, 1963). As research findings
on primates show persuasively one must assume, that there is a connection be-
tween social organization and communication. There is no doubt that a rudimen-
tary form of social organization and systematic communication must exist before
culture evolves. An attempt to formulate specJfic hypotheses beyond statements
of this kind, however. eludes the possblities of emprical verification. The archaeo-
logieal material used in support of statements about the early stages of culture and
social structure is scant and permits a variety of interpretations. lnferences made
from forms of non-human social organization and communication can lead to
erroneous conclusons even when drawn with great circumspecton. The same
applies to inferences trom human ontogeny to phylogeny. And even if ethnology
were able to offer tarly reliable reconstructions of "primitive" social structures and
cultures, the reconstruetion of "primitive languages" is probably impossible (H.
Hoijer, 1966). It is therefore unlikely that the reciprocal influence of language,
culture and' social structure will ever be comprehended in anything but its most
general outlines, and even then, only by way of controlled speculation, analogical
inferences and theoretical plausibility.
It ls hardly less difficult to provide emprical evidence tor or against "theories"
concerning a problem of almost equal abstraction. the alleged "concreteness" as
opposed to abstractness 01 "primitive" linguistic and cultural systems. It ls fairly
generally acknowledged that the dfferences between "primitivo" and non-archaic
cultures go deeper than mere semantic differences in their respectivo vocabular-
ies. They pertain to the general cognitive organization of culture (CI. Lvi-Strauss,
1962). It ls probaole that these differences orginate in the social structure (E.
Durkheim and M. Mauss, 1901/1902). On the other hand. it seems extremely
doubtful {hat primitive classification systems and forms of thought can, as a whole,
be regarded as "concretistic"; they are most certainly not "pre-Iogical" (eL L.
Lvy-Bruhl. 1910. 1 and C. Lvi-Strauss, 1962). At any rate, the difficulty still
remalns to linl< these observa1ions systematically to linguistc structures (cf.
Webster, 1952/53; G. Rvsz, 1946; A. Meillet. 1948: 242; H. Kronasser, 1952:
144ft.; H. Hoijer, 1966; E.H. Lenneberg, 1960). The hypothesis that an increasing
abstraction in language is related to ongoing differentiations in the social structure
appears plausible enough, if in need of specification and qualification. The con-
commitant assumption of a global unilinear "evolution", however. can easily be
refuted. It would be well to keep in mind that sorne areas in the social structure
of "primitive" socleties are highly dfferentiated, that the level of abstraction in
"primitive" dassiticatory schemes cannot be adequately measured according to
standards of Western models of logic, and, further. that on certain levels of
23
speech-style in modern societies strong "concretistic" trats can be detected as
well (cf. B.J. Vendryes, 1925: 44ft.; 8. Bernstein, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1964).10
It is obvious that a theoretical grasp 01 the historical interrelationship between
language, culture and social structure would be of the greatest nterest not only
to the sociology of language, but to sociology in general. Unfortunately,
various severe obstacles block the path of a suceessful analysis of social
phenomena on this level of abstraction. One presuppositon for systematic com-
parative research would consist of congruent typologies of social structure. culture
and language within the general of a theory of social change. However.
at present there is no agreement on general typologies even within the several
relevant disciplines. Neither sociologists nor anthropologists nor linguists sepa-
rately and severally agree on the construction of global typologies on social strue-
ture, culture and/or language, nor do they agree on how to translate global typolo-
ges into operational categores tor emprical research. Even more debatable is the.
relevance of such typologies fer: theories of change. Furthermore, tYPologes of
social structures such as those by Emle Durkheim and Ferdinand Toennies and
, 01 culture such as those by Robert Redfield and Alfred L. Kroeber, are dffcult to
coordinate with either traditional or modern linguistic typologies (ct. H. Hoijer,
1954; J.H. Greenberg, 1954; Ch. F. Hocl<ett, 1954; N.A McQuown, 1954; Ar.L.
Kroeber, 1960; N.H. Hoenigswald, 1963). This beng the case. a more promising
approach toward an analyss of the interrelationship between linguistic change,
cultural hstory and social change might be found, tor the present at least, on a
lower level of abstraction. It s, therefore, perhaps advisable to look for the causes
of change in observable communicative processes. It is here that language, culture
and social structure are continuously and concretely actualized at the same time . .
An outline of such an approach in the diachronic perspective is given by John J.
Gumperz and Del! Hymes in their proposal for an "Ethnography of Communica-
tlon" (ef. D. Hymes, 1964e; J.J. Gumperz, and D. Hymes, 1964; J.J. Gumprz,
1966). I shall return to this later in its proper context.
Although no well-established theory of the historical relations between lan-
guage, culture and social structure exists. linguistic seience could not avoid turning
to i'outside" factors in order to explain structural changes in language. Whenever
the changes could not be attributed to "inner mechanisrns',' of language (phono-
logical "adaptations" and the like), they were usually imputed to historie cultural
and social determinants ot the "psychology" (the mind, the soul or similar underly-
ing " structures
U
) of a linguistic community. Attention was mainly, and understand-
ably, devoted to explanations of linguistic change. The dynamic processes of
reciprocal influence between language. culture and social structure were seldom
grasped with any precision. The vast literature on the subject ard the fact that this
problem is so closely linl<ed to others do not allow a comprehensive presentation
here. I shall nevertheless poit out those social factors whose mportance for
" linguistic change have been explored, or, at least, suggested. .
connecUon between the intrinsic properties of a particular language and Its
10. In this connection attention shouid be drawn lo the de-difterentialion of linguistlc perlormances
in cases of aphasic disturban ces (K. Goldstein. 1948). Also, A. Schulz (1950), continuing in Ihe
tradition of interpretations of aphasic dislurbances which leed fmm H. Head lo H. Jackson, speaks
of a "concrete" and an, Uabstract" attitude which he corre lates with speech performances.
24
""1
j
;

..
and decline is obviously rather accidental although it may
become slgnlflcant under so me circumstances (cf. S.M. Swadesh, 1948; M. Co-
hen. 195?, Part The external history of a language is the hstory of a linguistic
communlty. In thls context attention should be drawn to the tact that the causes
tor the development of speciaJ Janguages, pidgins and creoles, are structuraL Very
often they are economic ar political, administrative and even military (cf. R. Lasch.
1907; A. van Gennep. 1908; O. Jespersen. 1922. Chapt. XII; D. Westermann, 1939;
M.R. 1951; W.J. Samarin, 1955; AL. Epstein, 1959; C. Voegelin and F.M.
Voegelln, 1964; D. Hymes, 1968).
Se':1antic changes more often than any other linguistic processes have been
explamed by reference to cultural and social-historieal conditions (cf. H. Paul.
1920; o. Jespersen, 1922; J. Vendryes, 1925; G. Stern, 1931; A. Meillet, 1906; St.
UlJmann. 1951. 1962; H. Kronassef. 1952). In addition to general observations and
hypotheses on !he of cultural and socio-historical conditions on linguistic
change (especlally semantlc change) a great number 01 special studies have
a?cumulated in the various sub-disciplines of linguistics, philology and cultural
hlstory. ot. are devoled to the history af individual languages
ar to part!cular hlstoncal penods 01 these languages. Phonological, morphological,
grammatlcal and, above all, semantic changes, are brought in relation to the
cultural and social history of the respective language communities (cf. B.O. Jes-
1905; K. Vossler, 1929; J. Trier, 1931; A.F. Jones, 1953; A UndqVist, 1955;
H. 1957; K. Huber, 1960). In addition to these more or less systematic
studles, more specialized investigatons of the change of restricted semantic fields
and semantic dornajns also instructive suggestions on the socio-cultural
basis of linguistic change (cf. M. Szadrowsky. 1938; L. Spitzer, 1941; T.B.L. Web-
5tef, 1952153; AF. Wright, 1953; B. Snell. 1955; L. Weisgerber, 1958; M. Leu-
mann, 1959; St. Ullmann, 1964). '
The point that children intluence some forms ot linguistic change can be repeat-
ed!y found in the literature (B.O. Jespersen, 1922, Part 11) .. Uttle attention has been
pald, however, to the different provsions af an insttutional or informal kind that
.way a language or. rather, lnguistic repertoires are acquired in
dlfferent socletles. Such difterences may significantly influence the stability 01 a
language the pace and perhaps even the direction of linguistic
.. Too ,We IS stlll known aboutthe lingustc consequences of different types
of kmshlp systems and the respective pattems of sociaJization (ct., however, G.C.
D.M. Schneider. 1956). In addition to kinship systems. more or less
age groups may also play an influential role (Ch. F. Hackett, 1950).
Instltutlons of formal education at which the written code of a language is taught,
presen:. are not equally accessible to all members of society. This is an
factor mffuencng the stabilty and direction of lingustic change.
The wntten code in its own right is an important link in the historical relationship
language, culture and social structure. In the classical civilizations of the
Anclent world the evolution of written codes from magic as well as economically
and politically "rational" sources (S.H. Hooke, 1954) was closely related to the
development of centralized forms of government. Administered by a specialized
of priests, written codes have frequently supported the archaization of a
rehglous language. Under different structural conditions, they may contribute to the
25
leveling of dialects and the standardzation of "written languages". They may also
lead to sharper differentiations between literary and other "high" languages and
vernaculars, each endowed with dfferent degrees of prestige (cf. J. Vendryes,
1925, PartV; AF. Sjoberg, 1964, 1966; also L. Bloomfield, 1927; P. Garvin, 1954).
There are dfterent ways in whch written and spoken language ean interact histori-
cally. In China an ideographic system could contribute to the mantenance of the
cultural unity of the social elite, the literati, despite differences in the spol<en
language (M. Granet, 1934; M. Weber, 1920: 395ft.). Orthography can also have
repercussions on the phonological structure of a language. It has been shown, tor
example, that the striving tor "correet" pronounciation, based on the introduetion
of somewhat arbitrary rules of spelling, .allowed the upwardly mobile Slovenian
middle class to exercise a certain influence on phonological developments in
standard "high" Slovenian (B. VOdusek, 1959).
It is extraordinarily difflcult to grasp systematically the manifold ways in which
language, culture, and social structure influenced each other historically (E. Sapir,
1921, Ch. 9; J. Vendryes, 1925, Part 4, Ch. IV; M. Cohen, 1956a, Part IV). The
consequences of functionally and temporally limited contracts can often be estab-
lished wthout much difficulty. The study of the diffusion of clearly segregated
cultural elements and oi ther integration in the receiving culture presents no
insurmountable methodological problems. As a concrete example one could men
tion the evolution of pidgins with slight repercussions, if any, on the languages
invo[ved and correspondngly limited changes in the economic institutions (J.
Reinicke, 1938). More often it turns out that the assumption of merely "external"
contact and surface influence is a ficton of dubious heuristic value.
In cases of far-reaching processes o.f superimposition (encroachment and ad
justment of linguistic elements, cultural lraits and institutional components) it is no
easy task to unravel the various strands of influence and establish clear causal
relationships without gross oversimplification. To appreciate the point one ne'ed
but to imagine a situation of over-aU social change involving different dalects and
languages sorne of which aTe related (saYI two Bant!-1languages) and others thaf
are totally unrelated (a Bantu and French); widespread areas of culture
from religious beliefs to the art of cooking; and, finally, a 'range of nstitutional
spheres from government administration and the economy to kinship. This is a
situation which characterizes much of Black Africa today as well as it characterized
wide areas of the Roman Empire two millennia ago. History oHers countless
examples that changes in culture, language and social structure merge dynami-
cally in different combinations, alternately dominating and permeating each other.
Early Roman history, with its changing social bases of cultural influence and
dominance, its waves of expansion ad settlement, its sequences of uneven
poltical and military development and linguistic influence, is a case in point. One
only need to think of the Italic dialects and tribes, the IIlyric neighbors. the Etrus-
cans, Magna Graecia, etc. to obtain an idea of the complexity of such processes
(F. Altheim. 1934: 11 Off.) Or consider the different political, cultural and economic
conditions that played a role in the spread of Islam, and Arabic, from the Maghreb
to India and China, from Tatary to the Sudan, from the 7th to the 20th century.
English history offers another good example of overlapping migrations and con- .
quests and the interpenetration 01 diverse cultural and linguistic influences. The
26
social. and cultural history of these inluenees has been almost as tboroughly
examlned as their narrowly linguistic history (O. Jespersen, 1905). Another examc
pie of complex cultural and linguistic contact which has been well investigated is
that of Switzerland (8.1<. Mayer, 1951). Uriel Weinreeh made a careful ease-study
of the reciprocal influence between linguistic (interference, bilingualism) and cul-
tural factors ("Iinguistic loyalty") in the Rhaeto-Romanic area and used these and
other data for documentation of his general theory 01 lingustic contact (1953).
In additon to detailed surveys of the "geography" dialects, some of which are
rather simple trait-distribution studies, there are also highly iIIuminating studies of
a wider cultural and socio-historical scope. Among them are investigations of the
reciprocal nfluence of dialects, professional language, religious languages (the
Hlanguages" of mysticism), slang, etc., and, on the other hand, the already existing
or evolving literary or standard nationallanguages (from the vast literature on this
subject, c1. H.L. Mencken, 1936; E. Partridge, 1950; M. Weinreich, .1953; A. Lind-
qvist, M.M. Guxman, 1960; E. l<ranzmayer, 1962; H. Brinkmann, 1962).
Evidently we are dealing here with a problem that is even less self-contained than
most others in the sociology of language. The relationship between literary stan-
dard language and slang and protessional languages is not entirely dissimilar to
the situaton that characterizes a minority language community, whose members
have reached different stages of enculturation into the majority language and
culture. The similarities appear most clearly in the differential distribution of pres-
tige, the institutionally pre-defined structure of language-use and certain social-
psychological implications, such as subjective identification (cf. C.M. Rosenquist,
1932; D. Lee, 1943; J.B. Johnson. 1943; E. Spicer, 1943; F. Gross, i 951; E.
Haugen, 1953; EP. Dozier, 1956; J. Gulick, 1958; E. Fausel, 1959; G.N. O' Grady,
1960; J.J. Bodine, 196.8).
. In the. United States, the classical case in point, a remarkable and broadly
Informatlve survey was made of the effects of "linguistic consciousness" and
"linguistic loyalty" on different institutionally and culturally determined "domains"
(cf. J.A Fishman et aL, 1966; J.A. Fishman, 1964, 1965a and b). The multi-
dimensionality of the conditions such as the economic and pOlitical framework
wi.thin which different ethnic, cultural and linguistic groups and sub-groups (e.g.,
mlgrant laborers) come into contact with each other, and the multitud e of conse-
quences of such contacts, the evolution of a lingua franca, linguistic nterferenee
on various levels of language, partal cultural assimilation, borrowing, etc. were
also shown in severa I studies on Afriea (cf. C.M.N. White, 1951; W.J. Samarin,
1955, 1966; AL. Epsten, 1959; 1. Richardson, 1964).
These problems overlap in part with the theoreteal and practical questions
rased in connection with standardization ot languages, the development-and
recently also the attempted "planing"-of national languages. A variety of influ-
enees is involved in these processes: ecological, demographic and economic
factors (e.g" commerce, urbanization, industrialization}, political factors (conquest,
colonial policy, centralized administration, the language of adminstraton) and
religious factors (e.g., church language, Bible translation) as wel! as the presence
or absence of writing, a traditional body of literature, educatonal nstitutions, etc.
(d. K. Vossler, 1929; J. Vendryes, 1925, Part IV, Chapo 3; O. Jespersen, 1946,
Chapo 3 and 4; W. Porzig, 1950, Chapo V; A Dauzat! 1953; M. eohen, 1956, Part
27
IV, Chap. 3; A. Sommerfelt, 1962: 52-58; E. Haugen, 1966). Al! of these factors
can combine and recombine in innumerable ways, either jointly supporting a cer-
tain path of over-all change or cancelling each other out.
We now come to a point of great importance to the sociology of language. Apart
from the intrinsic semantic and syntactic properties of a language, the highly
variable degrees of linguistic consciousness' and of attitudes on language have
tar-reaching historieal consequenees. Strong opinions on language that come to
be held by different social groups and classes may, for example, exert an influence
on the "internal" development ot a language (R.F. Jones, 1953). This fact was
generally overlool<ed by the science of linguistics, especially by the strueturalist
schools, although there were notable exeeptions (ef. H.M. Hoeningwald, 1966; L.
Nader, 1962). The influence of "lnguistic consciousness" and of atttudes toward
language is of coursa even more important and certainly more direct in the realm
01 ideology and potities. Language and "Iinguistic consciousness" have been
recognized as signifcant faetors in the rise 01 nationalism (cf. R. Jakobson, 1945;
H. Kohn, 1955; K. Vossler, 1932). But only reeently have systematic analyses of
this problem area been undertal<en both trom a historical perspective (H.L. Koppel-
mann, 1956), and within the framework of a sociological theory of communication
(I<.W. Deutsch, 1953). The obvious underlying reasons for the growing nterest in
this topic (J. de Francis, 1950; H.G. Lunt, 1959; R.E. Ruiz, 1958; Ch. A. Ferguson,
1962; R.B. Le Page, 1964) are the problems that arise tor the newly emerging
states from their ntricate and predominantly centrfugal lnguisfc and cultural'
situation. Nevertheless, with a few exceptions (R. Sereno, 1949) detailed system-
atc nvestigations of the functions of language in the shaping of political con-
sciousness and ideologies are still missing.
It is evident that, next to the intrinsic properties of lnguistic structures (in the
sense of a lnguistique interne), a considerable number of socio-cultural variables
in different combinations co-determines the use and functions of language. Amo.ng
them is the degree of prevalence within the Iinguistic community of mono-, bi- and
multilingualism. Another c10sely linked but not identical variable IS (he social distri-
bution of diglossia (the ability to speak both the standard language and a dialect
or dialects) within a society. These variables are correlated directly and indirectly
with social (e.g., economic and poltical) and cultural (especially religious and
ideological) factors influencing the use of language and linguistc functions (el.
above all H. 1<los5, 1952,1966; Ch. A Ferguson, 1959; J.A. Fshman, 1965b).
Apart from first models of classification of linguistic communties (H. 1<I08S, 1966),
future research will have to devole more serious attention to the development of
diachronic models (eL H. 1<1058, 1952; Y. Mall<iel. 1964).
80th global constructs and individual philologically oriented case studies in
cultural history have serious disadvantages in the effort to advance the theoretical
understanding of the connection between lingustic, cultural and social change.
The principal problem with global constructs is that typologies which could be used
to compare and relatethe three areas of change have yet to be developed. ~ h
findings of specialized phylological investigations, on the other hand, are very
ditiicult to tjt into a general theoretical framework. In both instances conclusions
depend on methods of debatable adequacy. Inferences about antecedent pro-
cesses are drawn from the final results, not from ndependent observations of
28
I
I
t
those processes. Furthermore, most studies of this kind have adopted a concept
of linguistic structure which corresponds to the noton of system in the /inguistique
interne. The semiotic or the pragmatic dimension (to use Ferdinand de Saussure's
and Charles W. Morris' terminology respectively) 18 8creened out on the level of
data collection to an extent which makas it difficult to reintroduce it evenlually in
the fheoretical interpretation of the dynamics of changa. Finally. lhe view of society
in most of these studies tends to see it unrealistcally as being neatly compartmen-
talized by sex, caste, profession, etc.
11
Despite these shortcomings, from which
some but not all studies in this area suffer, there can be no doubt of the sociologi-
cal relevance of the sociology of language findings. Nevertheless, it is satisfying
to discern here, too, the beginnings of a new approach of mmedate relevance to
the sociology of language. New is of course a relative term in the area of the theory
of linguistic change in its relation to cultural and social change as it is elsewhere.
But although Antoine Meillet anticipated much in his famous article on semantic
change that is now being taken up again, the new approach that has emerged
offers fresh insights into the problem and opens up new avenUeS for future re-
search. I am referring here in particular to the diachronic implications of the "Eth-
nology of Communication" approach which so tar have not been sufficiently sys-
tematized. The program, addressed to "the empirical field study of systems of
signs in systems of use" (D. Hymes, 1964b: 9), directs the search for concrete
causes of changa toward speech-acts. These, in turn, are seen as part of a
culturally meaningful and institutionally predefined communicalive situation.
The interdependence between linguistic repertores that ara determined by the
social piography of the speaker, the institutionalized contexts of communicative
interaction and the concrete situations of speaking and listening that are pre-
defined by cultural rules of meaningful use of language follows a complex pattern.
John J. Gumperz (1966), an exemplary study. is a precise nvestigalion 01 particular
instances of this pattern. It concerned the assimilaton of dialects to the standard
language and presented a theoretical analysis of the cumulative affect of changes
in communicative processes which eventually might allow cautous prediction ot
rate and direction of linguistic change. An earlier study by A. L. Epstein (1959)
analyzed linguistic developments in conjunction with social and cultural determi-
nants oi speech situations. His attempt to relate linguistic change to social stratifi-
cation systems is of particular interest.
This is not an entirely new idea. It was again Antoine Meillet (1948: 2431.) who
anticipated much that is theoretically relevant in this connection. The idea that
there is some relation between social stratification and linguistic change appears
in the notion that "imitation" of prestigious speech "models" triggers processes'
of language change and defines its drection (O. Jespersen, 1922: 186; L. Bloom-
tield, 1927: 439; also cf. M. Cohen, 1956b: 178f). Charles A. Ferguson (1959)
approaches the problem by systematic observations on the phenomenon of d-
gl08sia. John L. Fischer (1958) takes up the theory of imitation and maintains tllat
lnguistic changes take place in two continuously recurring phases: th lower
11. " ... lhe majority of studies of linguistic changa, however. aperate with a simple hierarchcal
modal of socety, in which populalionsare seen as segmented Inlo a series of discreta groups
differentiated by mean s af such categoras as class, caste, occupalion, sex, etc." (J.J. Gumperz
1966: 28).
29
classes imitate the prestigious speech-style of the upper classes whereupon the
upper classes gradually abandon it.
12
Fischer bases his thesis on findiligs from a
study he made in the United States. In vew of the size and the selecton critera
of his sample and the fact that he confines himself to phonological indices the
generalizations must be treated with caution. Indubitably Fischer's hypothesis
cannot be validly applied to radically different Ilnguistic and stratification systems.
William Bright and AI<' Ramanujan (1964) (also d. W. Bright 1960a and 1960b)
have found that some kinds of "cQnscous" linguistic change, especially semantic
change and introduction of loan-words, among languages in India that are
terized by caste dialects evolved mainly in the higher caste dialects. "Unco.n-
scious" forms of linguistic change on the phonological and morphological levels
were however equally distributed among higher and lower caste dialects, unless
the existence of a formal literary style retarded this particular kind of lnguistic
change. Furthermore, the concept "imitation" is far too vague to describe ade-
quately the socio-psychological process in question here. This s clearly demon-
strated by the interesting research by William Labov (1963,1966). Labov tried to
do justce to the intricate social and social-psychological dynamics 01 ths "mech-
anism" by singlng out its main component and examining it as a process of
"hypercorrection". The process Is to be found in particular among the lower mddle
classes. The nvestigations of Raven J. McDavid Jr. (1948), John L. Fischer (1958)
and Willam Labov (1963, 1966) definitely show that phonological changes can be
explained only by the use of class variables, at least in the case 01 modern class
societies such as the Unted States. With the exception of the study by Willima
Bright and A K. Ramanujan (1964), precise and systematic material on the role of
these variables in processes of lingustic change in other societies and on different
structural levels of language has yet to be colfected.
THIE PIERSPlECTIVE:
lANGUAGE AND SOCIAL
On the social-psychological level of analysis in the diachronic perspective, the
linguistic aspects of individual social biography constitute the foei of theoretical
and research interest. Though closely related and almos! inseparable, two aspects
may be distinguished here: 1,) The acquisition of language within the social struc-
ture and through its mediation, 2.} the internalization of social reality by means of
language. Both are essential for the social formation of eonseiousness and the
social shaping of personality structure.
Let us resta te the problem more precisely. First, it is not language but a particular
language whch is acquired by the child. In other words, the chiid learns a specific
linguistic code as, for example, one that is class-based (8. Bernstein, 1966). The
child might al50, at first, learn more or less elaborate varieties of "baby talk" (ef.
J.B. Casagrande, 1948; Ch. A. Ferguson, 1964), and only later acquire a socially
determined version of adult language. It must be also remembered that language
12. J.L Fischer slgnificantly refers t it as "flight-pursuit mechanism". FUfther bibliographical
references are found ln J.O. Herlzler (1950).
30
1
I
, :
is acquired in a specifc biologcally (E. Lenneberg, 1967) and Psychologically
predetermined sequence corresponding to specific levels of linguistic structure (ef.
R. Jakobson, 1941: also O. Jespersen, 1922, Vol. 11; H. Werner and E. Kaplan,
1952; R.W. Brown, 1958; M. Glanzer, 1962). Furthermore, language and linguistic
repertoires are not transmitted by sodal 8tructure in the abstraet but by specific
social structures with varied kinds of institutionalized I<inship systems (P.
Schrecker, 1949), age groups (Ch. F. Hocl<ett, 1950), and specalized educational
systems. These structures may occur throughout the society or be restricted to
certain social strata. They determine and direct the acquiston of language or, at
least, provide the framework within which a language is acquired. In addition to
acquiring a language, the child al80 leams the culturally or institu1ionally predefined
norms of linguistic use such as the rules ot formal and informal speech and other
stylistic variations, polite phrases, forms of address, proverbs, taboo words, etc.
Second, the internalization of social reality through language means: the subjec-
Uve acquisition and grasp of taxonomes and interpretative schemes, of socia!
categores ot space, time and causality, of typical motivational relations and struc-
tures of relevance, of behavioral recipes and value hierarchies, of what is taken
for granted and what is considered to be problematic in a given society. Al! this
is "filtered" and mediated by language, or more precisely, by semantic domains
and syntactic structures. But again. one has to keep in mind that it is "filtered"
through specifc varieties of language, such as class-based codes, through differ-
ent linguistic repertoires and through rules of language use (J.H.S. Bossard
Finally a language is eVidently not learned en bloc all at once, but in
sequences. These are usually socially predetermined in a rather strict manner
although they may be relatively accidental in certan types of societies. In addtion,
such sequences are als6'dependent on psychological presuppositons and lnguis-
tic structure. Besides, social reality is not transmitted by language alone. Role
playing, observaton anCl "imitation" of non-verbal "models" of behavor, sanc-
Hons, etc. are not linl<ed to language in exactly the same way and with equal
cogency in aH societies. The particular pattern of these linl(s is re'lated to the
general character of the culture and ts socio-structural foundation.
It is equally difficu!t to analyze systematlcally the complex relationship between
language, culture and social structure and the dynamics of this relationship in the
time-perspective of a social biography. George H. Mead drew the attention of
social psychology and sociology to the significance of role playing and communi-
cation tor the development of consciausness and for a child's orientation in the
social world. Since then the axiom that language holds a central function in sociali-
zaban processes has beco me the consensus omnium in social science text-
books.
13
The works ot Jean Piagt (1926, 1954) and L.S. Vygotsl<y (1934, 1939)
show the close interrelation that exists between language. and 1he development
of thought and the leaming of logical categores, despite the controversy between
them on the exact nature of this relation. Our Imowledge on some aspects of the
problem has been greatly advanced by a series of studies ranging n focus from
13. A sucdncl introduction to these queslions is oHered by J. Bram (1955, Ch. 3). An extensiva
bibliography on role Iheory, In part wilh a genetic and sodal-psychological orientalioo, is proferred
by T.A. Sarbin (1954) (et. furlher J.H.S. Bossard, 1943, 1945a, A. Slrauss, 1959, Ch .. 1, and
00 socialization P. Schrecler 1949).
31
ehild language (Clara and William Stern, 1907; also ef. O. Jespersen, 1922, Book
11) and languages of specific childhood subcultures (lona and Walter Opie, 1959;
cf. also J.B. Casagrande, 1948; Ch. A. Ferguson, 1964), to reports on experiments
in child psychology and psyeholinguistics (eL H. Werner and E. Kaplan, 1952; R.W.
Brown, 1958; M. Glanzer, 1962; O.A. Entwisle, 1966; in conneetion with Entwisle's
work also cf. J. Oeese, 1965). Informaton on the social presuppositions for the
learning of linguistic, cognitive and behavioral styles IS much scarcer. Too little is
known about the eonsequences of such socially determinad subjective "styles" for
the evolution of self-images and personality structures. Studies on the early stages
of bilingualism throw some light on these problems (eL A.A. Oebold, 1961, 1966;
also M. Pavlolovitch, 1920; J.H.S. Bossard. 1945b; E Lamberi, 1956). The studies
of M.M. Lewis (1936, 1963) which were heavly influeneed by Ourl,heim and Halb-
wachs should also be mentioned in this connection. The work ot Basil Bernsten
(1959, 1961 a, 1961 b, 1964) and the research inspired by his theories (U. Oever-
mann, 1966) deal with a problem of considerable sociological and political signifi-
canee. Bernstein argues that socially determined ways of life and forms of com-
munication lead to the evoluton of different speech styles-Bemstein calls them
"codes"-and that the most important social determinant ls class. He claims that
two different codes exist in England, an "elaborated" and a "restricted" code
wilhin a lnguistic community. These codes functon as differentiating "fiiters"
through which the child perceives reality. They also determine his later social
behavior. If due to general structural configurations a given class uses a specific
speech style (according to Bernstein the working classes have access only to a
"restricted" code) this will have foreseeable consequences on the self-image,
behavior patterns, educational success, mobility chances, etc. for children born
into this class.
THE PERSPECTIVE:
INTERRELATION OF GLOBAL STRUCTURES
The question 01 the nterdependence of language, culture and social st'ructure also
arises on analytic levels in the synchronic perspective. On the level of analysis of
global social structures. attention shifts to the interdependence of linguistic, cul-
tural and social-structural functions in a specific society at a given period of time.
Analysis in the synchronic perspective need not become trozen, sta tic analysis.
It is still concemed. after all, with social processes. A sharp. distinction between
diachronic and synchronic analysis IS therefore hardly possible. Neveftheless,
different schemes of interpretation are applied which lead to difterent defintions
of the problem and difterent kinds of theoretical djfficulties. Whereas worl< in the
diachronic perspective easily falls into the trap of specialized case-studies. i.e.,
non-comparability, work in the diachronic perspective has lo tear the danger of
functionalism that starts and ends with the profound assertion that
language, culture and social structure are functionally interdependent, Le.
tautology and triviality.
It is perhaps indicative that in the "Sapir-Whorf controversy" the limitations of
32
. ;
such functionalst generalities were overcome only with difficulty. In consequence.
the theoretical questions linked to linguistic determinism and linguistic relativism
acquired an associaton of vagueness and triviality. Oespite all this, t is difficult to
see how the problem of the interdependence of language, culture and social
structure can be approached without a comparative method that involves global
structures. This again raises the question of adequacy, congruence and possibili-
ties of operationalization. Another difficulty arises from the lact that global com-
parsons of this sort frequently remain suspended in the time!ess dmension of a
quasi-synchrony. This problem iS.minimized in comparisons of "primitive" sodelies
outside the mainstream of universal history. Hence, most of the studies mentoned
in the preceding discussion of linguistic relativism and determinism are not
severely aHected by this predicament.lt is noteworthy, however, that most of these
studies confine themselves to an nvestigation of linguistic and cultural interrela-
tionships and disregard social-structural variables. A well-Imown exception is the
work of Alf Sommerfelt (1938) and, more recently, that cif John L. Fischer (1966).
Fscher made the sociologically fascinating attempt to trace specific syntactic
differences of two languages to the role dfferentiations of their respective
eties, Truk and Ponape.
Global comparisons are lheoretically and methodo!ogically much more intricate
and dubious when applied to complex "historical" societies. The many questions
associated with such comparisons are of considerable theoretical importance.
They include: Are the strucfural similarities of all modern industrial societies re-
flected in the linguistic domains and semantic felds related to these structures (H.
Marcuse, 1961)1 Ooes "privatization" of the individual-a process closely ln"ed
to the rationalization and specializaton of the great public institutions in modern
society, especially the' economy, the occupational structure and political bureau-
cracies-Iead to lingustic changes which are functionally dependent on this pro-
ces s? Does it lead, for example, to an extraordinary semantlc differentiaton of
emotions, of sexuality, etc., and to the instrumentalization of institutionally deter-
mined lnguistc repertoires of most public social roles? Given the same structural
conditions, are such effects applicable to quite different types of languages? The
methodological difficulties that contront anyone seeking to find answers to these
questions without r8sort to sheer phantasy 8till seem insurmountable today (M.
Cohen, 1956b; A. Sommerfelt, 1966). Nevertheless, there s hope that eventually
typologies will be developed which will permlt eomparisons of global linguistic and
cultural systems (cf. R.P. Gastil, 1959; D. Hymes, 1961 b).
For comparative research on this level, jt will first be necessary to accumulate .
a sufficient number of meticulously executed studies on the variety of ways in
which language can be socially embedded in different societies. Some illumnating
studies on this " middle-range" sociology of language are already available. Yet on
this level, too, many important questions are still barely touched, others have been
investigated with inadequate methodological means. On ths level the necessary
complementarty o the synchronic and diachronic perspective becomes
cially clear. The functonalnterrelationship of institutions, roles, social classes with
linguistic styles and repertores emerges as a palpable social phenomenon in the
form of concrete matrices of social action and communication. In the course of
33
generations these produce slructura/ changes which can be clearly discerned on
both the institutional and lnguistie sides.
14
But even where a reliable allocation of
historieal causes of present functions is not possible, "middle-range" studies in the
synchronic perspective offer increasingly more differentiated and convir)cing evi-
dence of the social distribution of language. This applies to the stylistic, syntactic
and lexical, as well as the morphological and phonological level. At the same time,
these studies are beginning to provide information on the elementary requirements
tor what, for lack of a better term, may be called the social organization of com-
muncation. What this means will become clearer after a brief but systematic
discussion of the most interestng studes that are relevant to the synchronic
perspective on the "middle-range" of the sociology of language.
Ec%gca/ Determinants of Communication Ecology is a basic factor in the
evolution and maintenance of communication barriers and in the "demography"
(or density) of communications. Different models of quantification are available for
these variables (K-W. Deutsch, 1953). Communication barriers and communica-
tion density, in turn, provide the sub-stratum of conditions for the institutional
determination and specifcation of concrete social matrices of communication. The
importance of ecological factors for dialect studies is obvous. Although significant
contributions to the sociology of language were made by dialectologists (B.M.
Hain, 1951; W.A. Grootaers, 1959), systematic work and coherent theory on the
ecological foundations of dalects is not yet available. Without belttling their infor-
mative value, the same can be said of those linguistic investgations which go
beyond the boundares of traditional dialectology and deal with linguistic differen-
tiations in relation to mObility, urbanization, age groups, different paUerns
of settlement. etc.
Institutional Determinants 01 Communicati9n The communicatve networks
of social insttutions and of entire institutional dornains are evdently determined,
among other factors, by the functional requirements of the institution. The system
of functionally oriented complementary social roles establishes the direction and
the "feed-back" requirements of communication. It al so defines the pattern and
permissible ranges of communication frequencies. The cornmunicative network ot
an institution and the rules of linguistic use pertaining to it provide the framework
aod the pragmatic "motives" for the emergence of specific institutional "Ian-
guages". The development of such a "Ianguage" s, however, not exclusively
determined by "rational" requirements of information and feed-back within the
communicative network of an institution. !t is also fostered by what may at first
appear as secondary aspects or functions of the use of language in communicative
matrices: growth of solidarity of the "insiders" vs. "outsiders"; maintenance 01 the
self-image of the actors and legitimatization of the role-performances, etc.
"Institutionallanguage" is not a precisely defined technical term in the sociology
of language. 11 will therefore be necessary to discuss briefly what is meant by this
14. Compare the slatement by P. Friedrich 1964: 132: lo,. significant interrelationships. while
neither perfect nor total, ar widely present and highly systemalic between lhe semantic structure
underlying any fairly compls)$ terminological field and the associated social structure underlying
Ihe behavioral field in any culture thal has evolved wilh reasonable stabHity over two or more
centurias." .
34
term. In the mnimal case, which can be postulated as the basic case for any
inslitutionaJ complex, Ihe use of .the vernacular within the instrtutional area follows
a pattern that is determined by the functional requirements of that area. These
requirements will lead, at the very minimum, to a differential frequency in the use
of institutionally relevant words and to the establishment or a specfic word-ethos,
Le., a halo of valuations and sentiments attached to the words. It is more likely,
though, that the solving of specfic operational problems of an institution will, in
addition, toster a differentiation of semantic domajns and fields beyond the differ
. ence characterizing the corresponding domains and fields in the vernacular. The
insttutional speech style thus aequires its "own" lexical and perhaps even syntac-
tic structure. Though ditficult tor the linguist to pinpoint, it also develops a knd of
"shorthand" of abbreviations, cryptotypes and ellipses. Many things no longer
need to be articulated in full, others can be taken tor granted without saving. This
of course characterizes mainly stable communication patterns between comple-
mentary roles in social institutions. In the maximal case a language may thus
emerge which displays not only some isolated semantic peeuliarites and its own
rules of interpretation for certain institutionally relevant t8ms, but also its "own"
semantic, morphologieal and even phonological structures. Between the minimal
and the maximal case, there are transitional stages. In concrete instances it may
not be easy to decide whether it is a case 01 institutional ideolect, diglossia or
bilingualism. It would be premature to offer a systematic theory on the extent, the
direction and the form of instHutionally determined linguistic differentiaton. Some
important factors can, however, be established at present: the ecological basis of
institutional communication matrices; the relative of specialization of insti-
tutional spheres in different types of societies and, in this connection, the quality
and duration of tralning (institutional socialization) of role-performers as well as the
extent to which the laHer are segregated in separate social strata and groups.
(Compare, for example, the medieval communities of ascetic monl<s with the
orthodox prests in Russian villages or a protessional army with a people's milta.)
Different societes determine what typieal role-sets are typically permissible, avail-
able, etc. (Is it or is it not possible tor a person to combine the roles of father,
grandfather, son; or land owner, abbot, Imight, merchant?).
As soon as institutional spheres reach a certain degree of specialization a
significant range of institutional functions can be performed only by "experts".
Their specialized knowledge is expressed in specialized languages which acquire
an almost autonomous character. Depending on circumstances, these autono-
mous "Ianguages" or speech-styles may, in turno nfluence the standard language.
Some such circumstances were already mentioned. The influence of more or less
autonomous institutional "Ianguages" on the standard language from which it
developed also depends on {he general social relevance which the knowledge
objectivated in these "Ianguages" possesses. It is noteworthy that specialized
"Ianguages", as communicative aspects of specialized forms of Imowledge, can
beco me relatively independent of their former baseinstitutions, of the standard
language and even of their particular society as a whole. They may develop a
quasi-ideal status, as s, for instance, the case with sorne "religious languages".
"legal languages", "scientific languages", and the like.
An institutional "Ianguage" or an institutionaHy determined style of language is
35
1iIlIU1I3II.Ii__ IIIIiIIII!!I__ __ IIIiIIIIIIIII___ Illlliil!_________ ....... """"' ............ _ .... ______ ....... ______ ..........._______
eharaeterized internally by the artieulation of lnguistic role repertories (ef. C.W.
Milis, 1940; J.J. Gumperz, 1926b). With some modification, the general remarks
made on differentiation of insttutional speeeh styles can al so be applied to the
linguistie differentiation of role repertores. An obvious Iimitation here is the faet
that it is unlikely that the linguistie differentiation of role repertores and shared
semantic interpretations between eomplementary roles is generally as important
tor institutional funetions as communication between performers of identical roles.
This aets as a brake against semantic specialization among sub-sets of nstitu-
tional roles although it does not fully prevent j1. It is a very different matter with
status groups, as can be seen from the emergence of class-specifie speech-styles.
What is important tor institutional role repertores is the evolvement of regulations
for lnguistic transmission of information, liguistic directives and recipes for action.
rules of lnguistic etiquette, includng forms of address and expressions of respect,
etc., which are applicable to complementary roles and sub-sets of roles within the
entire institution.
It is therefore permissble to speak of general institutional styles of language and
ot specific role repertories, if not of institutional "Ianguages". There are no basic
theoretical, methodological or practical obstacles to descriptive analyses of institu-
tional "Ianguages", styles and repertories in a specific society. A wide range of
investigations waits for future generations of sociologists 01 language. A difficult
problem however, in the case of comparative analyses. The clusters of
institutional functions that are ioined in a given insttuliopal area, the differentiation
of performance s which constitutes the basis of institutional role-systems and the
degree of specialization Qf institutional domains vary trom one society to the next
-not to mention the varied ecological bases of communcative matrices and the
variations in social dstribution of knowledge.
One aspect of the problem is that at present most of the work produced in this
field is that of ethnologists. With few exceptions they have dealt with societies
where the social structure is articulated predominantly in the system of kinship,
whereas economic, political and religious insttutions show a low degree of institu-
tional difterentiation and specialization. Their respective functions are incorpo-
rated into the system of kinship roles where they appear merely as role segments.
Although it may be possible to distinguish between sacred and profane styles of
languages, economically pertinent terminologes and the like in such societies, one
could hardly speak of quasi-autonomous ins!itutional "Ianguages". These remarks
are to serve as an introduction lo the brief summary of work on institutional
linguistic styles and repertories which follows. This summary is ordered by main
institutional spheres.
A. It is not surprising that a vast amount of literature is available on the re/alon-
ship between kinship systems and language (A.M. Halpern. 1942; G.L Trager,
1943; F.G. Lounsbury, 1956; D.H. Hymes, 1964c provides a comprehensive bibl-
ography on the topie, esp. pp. 225-227). Most ethnological studies are restricted
to analyses of l<inship terminologies. Attempts to investigate smultaneously the
semantic structures of the kinship sphere, the linguistic use and the role system '
are relatively new and rareo Equally rare are the attempts to deal with I<inship and
languages in modern societes. In this connection the older studies by James H.S.
Bossard (1945b), George C. Homans and D.M. Schneider (1956) should be men-
.36
tioned,' as weU as two remarkable studies inspired by the theoretical notions of the
"elhnography of communication". They are Paul Friedrich's (1964) highly interest-
ing analyss of the semantic structure of the Russian kinship system and L Fis-
cher's (1 964) investigalion of Iinguistic use and semanlic structure in the family Jife
of the Japanese middle class, Indirectly Iinl<ed to problems of linguistic styles
within the kinship system, are linguistic differentiations related to age groups and
to sex roles. (cf. Ch. A. Ferguson, 1964; E. Sapir, 1929; P.H. Furfey, 1944; M.R.
Haas, 1944; R. Flannery, 1946). As is the case with other institutonal repertores,
both age and sex roles may be associated with minor stylstic variations as well
as approximations to special "Ianguages". It is interesting to note that such linguis-
tic differentiations may occur not only in speech styles or repertores of the role
performers, but in some instances as conventions of the use of language directed
at the role performers. The restrictions on language use by women and on speech
addressed to women are by no means confined to "primitiva" societies but con-
tinue to exist in modern societies.
B. Studes on differentiated lingustic styles and role repertories in [he politica!
domain are much scarcer. The seo res of studies on poltical terminologes made
by hstorians of ideas are not of immedate relevance for the sociology of language.
Ethnologists, on the other hand, have not been concerned with sodetes with
specialized political institutions until quite recently. The sizeable Iiterature on lan-
guage and natonalism is also of little immediate interest at this analytic level. A
study of at least partial relevance here is the one by Renzo Sereno (1949) men-
tioned earlier. Among studies on lingustic dfferentation in institutions that are part
of, Of closely lnked to the sphere of politics, mention should be made of the
investigation of liriguistic style in warfare (M.E. Opler and H. Hoijer, 1940), among
soldiers (F. Elkn, 1946) and also of studies dealing with linguistic usage in law
(T.8.L. Webster, 1952/53: 18f.; H. Cairns, 1957).
C. Hardly any studes exist on the links between religious linguisfic repertories
and religious roles. It is of course true that fully specialized religious institutions are
a historical rarity. The ethnological studies ot Leslie White (1944) and StanJey
Newman (1955) only in part belong to this category. They both deal with sodetes
which have developed a ritual vocabulary and a "sacred" linguistic style without
having an "autonomous" institutional structure. The use of a "sacred" vocabulary
or speech-style is naturally embedded in institutionalized situations also in these
societies. The abundant theological litera tu re, which consists in part of linguisti-
cally oriented nterpretations of "sacred" texts or descriptive analyses of "church
languages" pro vides little more than "raw" material for the sociology 01 language.
The excellent study of J. Barr (1961) on the semantics of bblical language is
relatively distinctve. Barr's investigation g08S, beyond questions dealing with a
"religious" style of language and is generally relevant tor an understanding of the
relatonship between language and culture. Two additional studies in ths area also
should be mentioned: H.F. Muller's work (1945) in which he tries ta relate certain
lnguistic and social phenomena of the early Middle Ages to the development of
the Christian concept of the person, and an investigation of a religious semantic
field by K. Faiss (1967).
D. Among investigations of economcally relevan! or economcally determ;ned
linguistic differenfiation there are the analyses of forms of property
37
designations (ef. L. Lvy-8ruhl, 1916; A. Capell, 1949). Ward H. Goodenough's
(1951) attempt to describe the relationship between trucl<ese economic types of
action and linguistic forms of property designations merits particular aUention. T.F.
Mitchell (1957) offers an analysis of the use of language in economic transactions
which is especially noteworthy beeause it deals with a society (Cyrenaca) with a
relatively high specialization structure 01 economic roles. The influence ot lan-
guage on professional mobility in a society which is characterized by lingustic
pluralism and in which the languages are assigned different prestige values was
investigated in Canada by E. Jacques 8razeau (1958). A problem to be mentioned
here in passing is the relaton between the economie basis, technology, the numero
ical system, the various measuring units and time dimensjons, and ther artieulation
in spol<en and written language (d. F.G. SI<inner, 1954; E.R. Leach, 1954: also cf.
W.C. Neale, 1963).
Much work sUII needs to be done on the relationshp between occupational
structures, economc role systems and linguistic repertories or styles ("jargons").
Very little is known about these relationships al present. There is, however, one
exception: one aspect 01 this problem has been nvestgated in studies dealing wth
argotsin which the common "occupational" experience was seriously nvestigated
as the basis of argot-like linguistic developments. Questions dealing with argots
were traditionally assigned to a difterent problem area because the essential trait
of argots was considerecj.to be their "secret" character. Mareel Cohen (1919) was
one of the first to put questions concernng argots in the proper perspective.
Beginning with Arnold van Gennep's (1918) general observatons on special lan-
guages, with the research on the linguistic and social aspects of the development
of argots (ct. A. Dauzat, 1929; S. von Wartburg, 1930; L. Spitzer, 1931, Vol. 11:
268-283) and with detailed studies of specific argots (M. Cohen, 1908) and of the
relation between argots and slang (E. Partridge, 1933; H.L Mencl<en, 1936: 555-
589), important theoretieal insights have been gained as as a large amount
01 data colleeted. In several detailed studies David W. Maurer succeedd admira-
bly in showing the combination o factors which in different circumstances led to
the emergence of an argot. The factors he lists are: 1) high eommunication density
within relatively small groups with a clear-cut role and status 2} specific
patterns of recruitment with a training program that is more or less institutionalzed;
3) sOlidarity against outsiders; and, last but not least, 4). ccupationally determined
"functional" needs to transpose the relevant domajn of experience and action into
a finely meshed linguistic nei. This explains why in the United Statesf for example,
there exists an argot 01 pocket thieves (D.W. Maurer, 1955) and professional
gamblers (D.W. Maurer, 1950; also cf. D.W. Maurer, 1951), of the "heavy racl<ets"
and several varieties of smugglers' argots (H. Braddy, 1956), yet no distinct lan-
guage of prostitutes (D.W. Maurer, 1939; cL also, the more recent worl< of T.1.
Rubn, 1961). Argot-like linguistic styles adopted by sub-cultures without an
economieally specializedinstitutional basis are in many.ways different from "true"
argots, despite some genetical affinties and functional analoges. This beco mes
apparent in the typical instability of such linguistic styles, as witnessed by the
"Ianguages" of the jazz world (R.S. Gold, 1957) and the world of drug addicts (H.
Braddy, 1955) that partially overlap. The linguistic style ot youth sub-cultures must
be considered as a special case. Where youth culture exists on the borderlines of
38
professional crime (eL L.S. Selling and S.P. Stein. 1934; P. Lerman. 1967) the
situation is even more complicated in ts details, as youth "Ianguages" borrow from
criminal argots, jazz language, ur:ban Negro slang, while fulfilling functions which
go beyond those of professional argots and jargons.
Linguistic siyles or codes evolving in social classes These are genetically
and functionally closely linl<ed to institutional styles 01 language or institutional
languages. although they are neither identical with them nor do they derive from
them directly. Institutional styles of language and role repertares emerge manly,
though not exclusvely, from the goal-oriented requirements of an institution with
a complex divison 01 labor. On the one hand, they are adapted to the speeific
functions of the institution and, on the olher, to the general conditons of communi-
cation in a system of eomplementary social roles. In contradistinction, styles or
codes of language associated with social strata as well as status repertories are
based on a common life-style. The life-style is defined by different chances of
access to goods and services and by various combinatons of connubium, com-
mensality and a specifc code of honor. These determine the density and the
degree of intimacy ot communcation as well as the range of communication which
for sorne social strata n sorne societies potentially encompasses the whole of
social reality. In addtion, it must be kept in mind tha! kinship units are also units
of the stratification system. Given the prevalent monopoly of the 1amily on primary
soeialization, this fact has mmediate consequences not only for range and the
"content" but also for the stability of the style of language linked to social strata.
Indirectly, evolution and employment of linguistic styles associated with social
strata: e.g., class-"codes", are influenced by more or less conscious motives such
as concerns for the maintenance of mobility barriers and family-transmission ot
status which may strengthen the emphasis on elaborate mQrks of identification
that cannot be easily "fal<ed". Lingustic styles with this origin tend to depend to
a considerable extent on group sOlidarity. The importance of caste or class styles
and "eodes" of language 10r the reinforcement of group solidarity may be consid
ered to be partly analogous to 1hat of occupational argots.
Before turning to a more detailed discussion of this matter, a few general re-
marks on the structural presupposition o styles of language associated with social
strata, on the concrete 10rms of linguistic ditferentiaton. and on the social condi-
tions 01 their use.
Concerning the first point, lt ls evident that the specific nature of a given histori-
cal stratification system will decisively influence the degree of linguistic differenfia-
Hans associated with it. The rough Weberian distinction between caste, estate and
class societies indicates the wide range of varability in the elementary basis of all
linguistic difterentation that i5 associated with social stratification. Factors linked
with this distincton are the rate of inter- and intra-generational mobility, endogamy,
religious, pOltical and legal reinforcement of the stratification system, the visiblity
of stratifieational boundaries, the imposition of social distance between strata or
ts absence. the internal homogeneity of social strata, the varied forms of socializa-
lion that characterize different social strata and the like.
Concerning the second pont, note that linguistic styles and "codes" are not the
only kinds 01 linguistic differentation that are associated with social stratfication.
39
! ?t y", ,
of Basil Bernstein's interest. (Because his research and his hypotheses contrbute
mainly to an understanding of the consequences of linguistic styles linked to social
class tor socialization processes, they were discussed earlier in their proper con-
text.) Those further studes in whch Bernstein moves from his original concept of
a "public" and a "formallanguage" to the sharp distinction between a "restrcted"
and an "elaborated code" (1958, 1959a and b, 1960, 1962a, 1962b) that charac-
terizes the worl<lng class and the middle class, respectively, are also highly perti-
nent in the present context.
I have now discussed the most important ways in which language s embedded
in social structure. I have drawn attention to the ecological basis of eommuncative
matrices; I tried also to show how communicative roles or status-bound torms of
communication emerge from this basis within the various in8titutional spheres and
within the stratification system, as well as how these communicatve roles and
status are defned by characterstic rules for the use of language. The development
of institutional and stratification-bound lnguistic styles or linguistic repertories
presupposes this elementary differentation of communlcative matrices tor the use
of language. It is evident that speech-acts are performed in concrete social situa-
Hons. In all soceties these situations are obviously predefined to a high degree by
institutions and by the stratification system. Therefore the concrete use of lan-
guage (such as the choice of a linguistic style, the adopton of a linguistic repertory
etc.) is socia/ly predetermined. The individual linguistic "choices" by tlle speaker
consequently need not be conscious mental performances. They may be largely
habituated rather than subjectively "motivated"-but the patterns of habituation
involved here are socially controlled processes. ThRdegree to which social roles
and status determine situations and hence al so the "degree of freedom" in the
choice of speech style varies fmm one type of society to the other. It varies
according to the different institutional and stratificational definitions ot the ditferent
types of social situation involved. Dne thing is certain: no situation and no speeQh-
aet is completely "open", nor i8 it completely determined by the social structure.
So tar I discussed only the most important or the most obvious form of social
determinism, the determnation of the situation and the speech-act by the social
structure. As will be shown later, the intersubjective structure 01' the situation
imposes further restrictions on the situation and on the speech-acts in it. Before
turning to them, another dimenson of the definition of the situation and thus of the
pre-determinaton of speech-acts deserves special attention. Two thngs must not
be forgotten. Language is a social phenomenon without a specialized institutional
or stratificational basis. There is no doubt that the use of language and the dfferen-
tation of linguistic styles and repertorjes in a given society are determined by its
institutions and its system of stratification. It must be noted, however, that lan-
guage as a general social phenomenon is also a quasi-ideal system which "tran-
scends" institutions and social strata. Language ls acquired through the "filter" of
social structure and society determines the use of language in social situations.
But as jt ls acquired and internalzed, language becomes a subjective possession
that is quasi-independent of all overt social determination. Language as a quasi-
ideal system is one of the most general social phenomena, but, paradoxically, it
is also the most intmate and immediate personal phenomenon.
Language "filters" social reality. In other words, culture as a configuration ot
42
'1\
't' '1
meanings detining reality is objectified in language. In order to be precise, ono
, should say "defining most of realty" and "objectified" primarily in language, but
empirically, this precison IS not necessary. One may say that language as a
generar social phenomenon mediates reality to the individual member of society
and thus becomes a pervasive aspect of his personal orientaton in the world. Not
withstanding all the structural and stratificational constraints that regulate the use
of language in social stuations (and, in a manner of speal<ing, all human situations
are social), the personal orientation in the world, the individual Gommand of lan-
guage permit the use of a personal "style". The constraints on the use of language
are not absolute. In fact, they cannot be absoluta for communication among
human beings.
Dne important example of "individual" stylstic variation is found in various forms
of lnguistic creativity which serve the individual person to express aspects of
experience that are important to him and express them above and beyond lhe
standard stylistic means available to him. Such creativity often concerns matters
in which distinctions between what is lofty and trivial, sacred and profane, funny
and serious, etc., play an important part. Linguistic "creativity" of this kind arises
from a background ot common cultural configurations of meaning which set a
different model, from one culture to another, for whatis general/yto be considered
serious or funny, sacred or profane, etc. It should be clear, incidentally, that ths
does not mean that "individual" aspects of style are entirely unrelated to con-
straints exerted by the social structute and the system of stratfication. But the
presence of a sacred dimension in lnguistic use is not necessarily the same as
the linguistic repertory of a religious role, to refer to one example among many.
(cf. L. White, 1944; St. Newman, 1955; D. French, 1958)
Shared cultural configurations of meaning provide the background of stylistic
creativity not only in the realm of language but also in other communicative do-
mains. Under certain conditions this general semiotie background may be reflected
upon by some members of a society. Experts of various l<inds begin to formulate
an aesthetic code, a canon of expressve forms. But here we evidently leave the
area of a narrowly conceived sociology of language and enter the wider domain
in which general semiology, aesthetic theory, the sociologies of art, of language
and of knowledge have mueh to gain fmm future collaboraton.
Shared cultural configurations of meaning, socialstructural constraints and 50-
cially defined cognitive systems jointly "produce" rhetorical rules, standards 01 oral
traditions, "styles" of jOI<ing, patterns for the narration of proverbs, myths, judicial
and religious legitimations and the like. At least in sorne types of societies aes-
thetic canons develop which function as an explicit, clearly articulated constrant
on styles of language use. This is most easily observable in literate civilizations that
developed philological traditions and theores of aesthetic forms.
In societies in which the :'style" 01 linguistic use i8 constrained in the sense
mentioned above, Le., in societes in which an "art of language" has evolved and
reached a eertain "autonomy", the ways in which "style" and social life become
enmeshed and interdependent can be investigated in detail and with precision only
by specialized disciplines. It seems, however, safe to aS$ert that all cultures and
all languages, no matter how rigid the aesthetic canons in so me areas, retain
elaments of relative "stylistic" freedom and "creativity" in other areas. In what
43
exactly such "creativity" consists will evidently difer from one society to another
and from one domain to another. The possibilities of individual variations of "art
from not the bounds of the permissible in joking
relatlonshlps determlned by klnshlp systems to an eccentric use of alliterations in
the sonnet formo It is impossible to give extensive bibliography. tnstead, the inter-
ested reader is referred to Part IV: "Speech Play 'and Verbal Art
n
by O.H. Hymes,
1964, especally to the introduction of Hymes, and the contributions by S1. New-
mano Gayton, Th. H: Sebeol<, Shiml<in, Emeneau, Hass and Conldin (ef. also
M. HalO, 1951; M.G. Smlth, 1957; EO. Arewa and A. Dundes, 1964. The work of
EM. Albert, 1964, is also ot special interest).
THE SVNCHRONIC PERSPECTIVE:
SPEECH ACT ANO SOCIAL
With sorne of the above observations, we inevitably reached and oeeasionally
?ros.sed. the border to the next analytical level, the level of social psychology. The
Impllcatlons ot these observations for the analysis of speech-acts in social situa-
tions still remain to be developed clearly.
Social situations are defined by the social strueture with its nstitutions and the
stratifieation system with varying degrees of precision and articulaUon. Whereas
the socialized in "one" language, he in fact aCqUired:
In the ??urse of hls social blography, different role- and status-related repertores.
I n the respective situation-related rules of the use of language.
Socletles dlffer In the combinations 01 social roles that form role-sets in the
association of role-sets with special status and in the types 01 linguistic
that are linked with them. It is an important task for empirical research to ascertain
combinations are possible, which typical, which exceptional in what soci-
ebes {M.A. Halliday, 1964}. It is evident that in the concrete situation neither "the;'
language nor all repertories are actualized. Only those linguistic structures are
which are subjeclively perceived as relevant according to the tormerly ac-
nstitutional and stratificational definitions. It ls another important task for
to determine the range of permissible, typical and exceptional
?omblnatl?nS?f etc., in the situation (Le., not only consecutvely
In the social blographles of Indlvlduals), and to investigate the situational rules for
the of synchronic social role- and linguistic repertory-sets (for general
referenee to this problem cf. J.J. Gumperz, 1962a and b; D.H. Hymes, 1962; E.
Goffman, 1964; S. Ervin-Tripp, 1964; J.A. Fishman, 1965b).
As has been shown, speech-aets in concrete stuations are predetermined by
a variety of circumstanees. The relevant role and status aspeets of a stuation
almost "automatically" actvate specfe linguistic styles and repertories. Situation-
orientad stylistie variations are motivated, usually somewhat more "eonscously",
by general cultural eonfigurations of meaning. The range of permissible variation
the stylistic "degrees of freedom" vary of course from society to society and
stuation to situation.
The concrete form 01 the speech-act, be t an order, a direction, a queston. a
transmission of information. etc., ls constituted in retation to situatonally relevant
44
aspects of social reality. The latter may be determined by the kinship system {ef.
P. Friedrich, 1964, 1966: J.L. Fischer, 1958), age and sex groups (cf. R. Flannery,
1946, Ch. A. Ferguson 1964), economc institutions (T.F. Mitchell, 1957). poltical
insttutions (RR Solenberger, 1962) and the stratilieation system (cf. J. Gonda,
1948; P. Garvin and S.H. Riesenberg, 1952; RW. Brown and A. Gilman, 1960; J.
Rubin, 1963; E.M. Albert, 1964; M. Kenny, 1965; A.M. Stevens, 1965). These
situationally relevant aspects of social reality may be also primarily determined by
general cultural norms. governing the recognition of the seriou?J the solemn, the
holy, etc. (cf. St. Newman, 1955; O. French, 1958; also E.M. Albert. 1964). The
situational relevance of social. slruetural and 'cultural factors is clearly apparent in
the selective use of semantic, syntactic, morphological, phonological as well as
"paralinguistic" constituents in choosng forms of address (E.E. Evans-Pritchard,
1948; RW. Brown and M. Ford, 1961; J.L. Fischer, 1958; P. Friedrich, 1966; S.K.
Das, 1968). personal pronouns (P. Forchheimer, 1953; P. Friedrich, 1966), polite
phrases and formulae of courtesy and general etiquette (P. Garvin and S.H. Re
senberg, 1952; A.M. Stevens, 1965), as well as in the choice of interjections and
in the avoidance of certain words (cf. D. Westermann, 1939; M.R Haas, 1957).
C.O. Frake (1964) demonstrated convincingly that a complex interplay of socio-
structural, cultural and linguistic faetors of the kinds described above is presup-
posed in such a seemingly simple speech-act as the ordering oi a drink.
So far, I have discussed only those determinants of the speech-act which affeet
the situation from the "outside", by way of the social determination of the biogra-
phes of the individuals participating in the stuation. There is, however, an enUre
set of intrinsic determinants that must be considered separately. They originate in
the "inner" structure of the situation and influence the form of 1he speech-act from
"within". As far as the individual s concerned each situation s subjectivelystruc-
tured in various ways: spatially (into left and right, up and down, near and tar),
temporally (into before and after, soon and late, etc.), socially (aecording to the
immediacy ot the several symptoms-optcal, acoustie, tactile, etc.) and to the
permutations of these symptoms by which partners in the situation are ex-
perienced15 The determination of all concrete speech-acts by the subjective expe-
rience of the situation. while self-evident, was seldom analyzed systematically (ef.
for some important exceptions, N.H. TurSinai, 1957; H. and A. Thornton, 1962;
E. Benvniste, 1966; M.B. Scott and S.M. Lyman, 1968) 16, perhaps precisely
because it appears so self-evident that it could be considered trivial. As so often
in such matters, nothing could be farther from the truth.
15. It is impossible lo deal with Ihis problem her. The most importan\ 31ld detailed analyses
have been made by Alfred Schulz in continuanon or Husserl's work (el. his Co!lected Papers.
1962, 1904) in his development 01 a phenomenology of the Iifeworld (el. al80 Golfman [esp.
1959] and P. Berger and Th. Luckmann (1966. Ch. 1)).
16. .. Al! languages have in common certain categories 01 expressions which seem lo conform
to sorne constanl pattern. Although Ihe (linguistic) rorms of these ca\egories are recorded and
registered in descriptions. their real functions can be tracad oniy by studying spoken language
In actual discourse. They are elementary categories independent of all cultura! determination.
They are manireslations 01 subjective experiences 01 ndlviduals who locate themselves and indica te
their own loeation by means 01 language." (E. Benvnisle, 1966: 3).
The assertion af indepandence 01 cultural is, however. contestable. Take as an
example the "relativity" 01 spatial orienlalion: D. (1950. p,.543); and the relation between
lemporal structure, time categories and linguistic forms, of. H. and A. Thornton, (1962: 75ft.)
45
Even after allowing for this additional dimension in the analysis of speech-acts
we have not done with the problem. The speech-act is a social process within a
dynamic situation. !t is predefined from the "outside" institutionally and culturally
by the stratification system, and continues to be co-determined from the "outside"
whle being performed. Furthermore, the speech-act is based on subjective struc-
turing 01 experience in the situation. But that is not all. The speech-act is also
governed by the mirror-eftect 01 the social situation. It is continually modified by
the on-going experience of the partner in the situation. The processes of "feed-
back" and self-correction and the ellptic ways of speech, etc. can only be under-
stood within thjs dynamic context. Thus, from the point of view of transmission of
nformation, what was said earlier in a situation need not be repeated. If jt is
repeated, however, the repetition adds weight to the argument or fulfills specal
"stylistic" 1unctions. During the speech-act, e.g., during such a repetiton, the
partner is observed. He nods his head, says yes, blushes, whereupon the other
partner starts stuttering. If he repeats again what he had already said and repeated
once, the second repetition has a different meaning than the first In short, the
accumulation of shared experiences in the course of ongoing speech-acts modi-
fes the later phases of the speech-act
Speech-acts are embedded in processes of social inferacton. They are accom-
panied by gestures, facial expressions, etc. These can, in part, replace the speech-
aet and vice-versa. The interrelation of speech and other forms of (non-verbal)
communicaton is extremely difficult to apprehend systematically. To mention one
problem: How much and what kinds of information that the speaker did not intend
to convey do es the listener gather in the total speech-act from speech? How much
and what knd from other processes? How fine are the perceptions DI differences
in his partner's or his own variations of linguistic style? What conclusons does he
draw about his partner's personality, his mood, etc.? How "correet" or "mislead-
ing" are these conclusions? How do they influence social behavior? To what
extent can linguistic and "para-lingustc" parts 01 the speech-act be manipulated
intentionally and purposefully? (Many aspects of these questions have been dis-
cussed by E. Sapir, 1927; G.W. Allport and P.E. Vernon, 1930; G. Dev.ereux, 1949;
G. Herzog, 1949; S. Vendryes, 1950; J.J. Calvert, 1950; J.R. Firth, 1950; R. Pieris,
1951; H.H. Wangler, 1952, J. Ruesch and W. I(ees, 1956; J.A Starl<weather, 1956;
J.B. Adams, 1957; St. H. Eldred and O.P. Prce, 1958; R.A Hall, 1959; D. Hymes,
1961a, 1964b; E. Goffman, 1964).
4 On the Functions
01 language
In the analysis of the relationship between language, culture and social structure,
the question of the functions ot language was inevitably touched upon. Now the
question must be dealt with systematically. The starting point tor all further obser-
vations on this matter IS the recognition of the relative autonomy of language as
46
a sign system vis-a-vis culture and social structure. At the same time, language is
linked with culture and social structure in a variety of intrcate synchronic and
diachronic patterns. Without undue reifcation of these concepts it IS therefore
legitimate to asl< what language "does" tor culture and social structure. In other
words, what does language "do" for man as a thinking and acting social being?
It is hardly surprising that various answers have been given to such an important
question in the course of human thought about language. No c[aim is made for the
great originality of the answer presented here. It merely systematizes notohs that
are already interspersed in the preceding analyses and it mal<es reference to
various investigations sorne of which have been reported previously. For the sake
of the brevity indicated in an essay of this l<nd I will keep to essentials.
17
THE FUNCTION
Language is a sign system. This determines its basie function. The linguistic sign
system is a "mediating" structure. lts constituent elements, the signs, are defined
by the relationship between linguistc forms (Le., patterns of experience that are
constituted subjectively in sensory processes in the acoustic modality) and pat-
tems of all kinds of experience in all kinds of sensory modalities. as well as other
forms of conscious processes such as recollectons, ficUons, abstractions and the
lil<e. This relationship is established intersubjectively. Signs, and of course sign
systems, are social phenomena. The relationship between linguistic form and
pattern of experience may be called signification, in contradistinction ta the acci-
dentalmeanings of signs which need not be intersubjectively established. The
exact boundaries of significations, Le . ther semantic extentions, are defined by
the relation of signs to each other in semantic "fields" and ultimately by their
location in the sign system.
The reality that is mediated by language is not absolutely predetermined. It
arises in experiences that are patterned by and "filtered" through interpretive
schemes (J. Piaget, 1926, 1954; A. Gurwitsch. 1957; L.S. Vygotsky, 1934).
Schemes of experience are typical ways of "Iool<ing at" and "coplng with" reality.
They represent habitualized ways of "problem solving". Subjective schemes of
experience arise in concrete contexts of experience. This means that they are
based on subjective systems of relevance which determine these contexts. In the
course 01 socialization they are also increasingly permeated by intersubjective
structures of relevance (G,H. Mead, 1934). In addition to a cognitive dmension,
the structures oi relevance also have a pragmatic and an affective dimensiono
Which of the dimensions of relevance will prevail in a situation will depend on the
nature of the object experienced or of the problem to be acted upon. In the course
of generations those schemes of experience which continue to be intersubjectively
(Le., socally) relevant beco me permanently objectified in language. Once this
happens, the linguistic "models" of experience will begin to exert nfluence on
experience. More precisely, they begin to steer attention and to mold interpreta-
17. A vas! literatura is available on lingustic fnctions. I refer for the mos! imporlant
lo W. Porzig, 1950, and B. Snal!, 1952; K Bhler, 1934, and F. Kainz, 1954; G. Aevesz, 1946,
and D.H. Hymes. 19610.
47
tions of experienc8 by providing a socially and historically eharted "topography 01
rea!ity".1B
Attitudes and motivations of individual s lo whom a pre-exstent social reality,
including language, is socially transmitted by various communicative processes-
and tha! means, empirically, mainly by language, are thus continuously co-deter-
mined by language (C.W. Milis, 1939). It should be stressed that not only subjective
and intersubjective relevance structures but also lingustic forms-through which
schemes of experience and, indirectly. structures of relevance become objectified
-have a cognitive (primarily representative), an affective (m8inly emotional) and
a pragmatie (primarily action-programming and triggering) dimenson of significa-
tion (d., e.g., B. Malinowsl<i, 1922; B. Snell, 1952, A.R. Luria, 1961). It must be
noted, however, that the semasological objectification, (Le., the social definition
of the relation between lingustic form and pattern 01 experience) presupposes a
certain dominance of the cognitive-representative dimensiono Representation s
rooted in language as a sign system (8. Snell, 1952). The evolution of the domi-
nance of representation from what must be assumed an original primitive combina-
tion in which pragmatic and affective moments may well have predominated is a
highly significant fact in the general evolution of human consciousness. It was a
process that evidently must have been associated with complex developments in
the "evolution
lJ
of social organization and culture. The potential dominance of the
cognitive-representative dimension in language constitutes an essential condition
tor the historieal emergence of science and scientifie "Ianguages". Nevertheless,
one should not fall into the obvious trap and define language exclusively by its
representatonal function. Language models based on such definitions are entirely
inadequate for an analysis of communication in everyday life.
Language is a unitary structure. This is true of language as a sound system that
is subjectively accessible and experienced in a single sensory modality as well as
of its semasiological structure. The schemes of experience, however, whchare
objectified in language have a heterogeneous origino According to their origns in
different strata of subective experience and in different intersubjective relevance
contexts they tend to form semasiological levels. Thus it i5 possible to make a
formal distinction between typifications characterized by a relatively high degree
of singularity (such as names and typifcations of a higher degree of abstraction)
and almost entirely formalized syntactical relaUons. Different languages obviously
vary considerably in the distribution of these formal tasks among the semantic and
syntactic levels of language. As soon as this formal distribution of general semasi-
ologcaJ functions is established for a language, a further and more "concrete"
analysis of ts semantie components can be made. The linguistic articuation of
reality leads to the formation of semantic domains. Here, too, there will be varia-
tions in detail among different languages. 8ut in broad otline, certain basic
similarites can be established in the "world view" of most known languages. There
18. er. A Schutz (1955: 194): "The native can be taken as a set of rererences
which. in accordance with the relativa natural of {he world as approved by Ihe Iinguistic
communty, haya predeterminad what featuras,of world ara worlhy of being expressed, and
therewilh what qualities 01 these features and what relaUons among them deserve attention and
what lypfications, conceptualizations, absl(actions, generalizations and ideaUzaUons are relevan!
for acheving typical resulIs by typlcal means."
48
seem to be certain correspondences between semantic domains and general
patterns o the subjective experience 01 different "Ievels" of reality. The apportion-
ment of specific items to different levels, the points through which the nes sepa-
rating the levels are drawn and the sharpness ot the separation, however, differ
from culture to culture.
The firstdomain corresponds approximately to experiences based on immediate
sensory perceptions. Its objects, qualities and movements have been shaped on
a Qrn:linguis1ic and In an elementary
be said Yet even they acqwre a soo:Cufiral dimension
throug; language typifies and orders them according to degrees of abstrac-
tion and to their socially defined relevance in pragmatic eontexts (Le., their'''useful-
ness"). Unguistic typificatons that belong to this domain play an important part in
steering attention, predefining choice of aetion and stablizing the patterns of
subjective experience (cf. A.J. Hallowell, 1951; and E.H. Lenneberg, 1954; R.W.
8rown, 1956, 1958; E.H. and J.M. Roberts, 1956: also K Goldstein,
1948). {;)
The second domain .. h
... ..
they are .J'?lrni!N" __w.hiql.) .th-sl...
The boundaries of this level and its internal difler-
entiation differ significantly from culture to culture. This IS obvious in a comparison
of animistic, totemistic and scientfic cultures (cf. L. LvyBruhl, 1910, 1935; A
Sommerfelt, 1938; el. Lv-Strauss, 1962). The objects of this level of reality are,
therefore, not universal in the sense in which objects of the first domain are
universal (cf., however, J.H. Greenberg, 1966). The very mode of existence of
objects apprehended in this semantie domain is social and historical. They are
eonsttuted in communication. They are definitely not pre-determined by sensory
perceptions. They are actualized in concrete experience on!y as individual in-
stances. Linguistic objectifications of objects in ths domain can be relatively singu-
lar (John) or anonymous (traffie policeman), concrete (wavng the flag) or abstraet
(government). The degrees of abstraction and anonymty may be considered as
being located on continua. They form semasiological hierarchies that link this
domain to other domains. The semantie fields that refer to artifacts, tor example,
linl< the domain of social reality to the first domain. The semantic eare of this
domain in most human societies is, however, formed by kinship terminologies.
(There is a vast body of literature on kinship terminology, mainly in social and
cultural anthropology. Some of it was cited earlier. eL also p, Friedrich, 1964; P.
Forchheimer, 1953; E. Rose, 1960).
The third
by the fact that it can never be directly but only
'01 ube rt and
M:rvfausS;-"T8-9779-S;:-Schutz, 1955). Evidently this ls an lnsufficient definition
of this level of reality from the point of view 01 the sociology 01 religion. In the
present context, however, it must suffiee to point out that the word "cross" can
be several words. One belongs to the field of artifacts, one to the field of social
burdens to bear, one to the field 01 ritualized gestures. Al! of these are on the level
of social reality although the first approaches the frst domain and the la8t the third
domain. But "cross" may also refer to a symbolic reality, in this instance a religious
one, that constitutes a dornain in its own right.
There is etymological evidence oro at least, are plausible interpretations
of etymological evidence that lend support to the hypothesis that the first domain
represents an archaic stratum of language (d. 1<. Kronasser, 1952: 114ff. and N. H.
TurSinai, 1957). Comparisons in this domain (e.g . synaesthesia) are already the
formal analogue to, and perhaps a "predecessor" of comparisons and metaphors
which constitute bridges between the domains and permit creative extentions that
can be said and thought. This capacity of language is an essential presupposition
for Ihe development of religious, philosophical and scientific forrns of Imowledge
(B. Snell. 1955: 258ft. esp. and 299ft.)
Language performs an eminently important social function by incorporating into
the formal order of a system of signs the linguistic objectifications of experiences
originating in the most varied contexts of life. The effective performance of this
function is based on the linguistic stabilization of the psychological processes of
abstraction and typification and on the semantic ordering of experiences in fields
and domains. The relative heterogeneity of subjective experience and the absolute
heterogeneity of experience between individuals is "overcome". in a manner of
speaking, by the relative unity of semasiological processes. The basic semasiolog-
ical function of language is thus of decisive importance in the mediation of a
socially constructed reality. In other words, it is an essential condition of a human
social order.
These general observations on the elementary semasiological function of
guage for "society", i.e . for human beings in social worlds, can be specified by
showing what they mply on the different analytical level and in the various time-
perspectives.
On the Supra-Individual Level: a.) Diachronically: the objectification of socially
relevant "problem-solving" by providing a semantic structure for things taken for
granted and for traditional ways of doing things. Ths is the presupposition for
specific forms 01 social control and the foundation of the social accumulation of
knowledge. b.) Synchronically: the stabilization of specific, i.e . semantically pre-
defined patterns of communication for social institutions, sociar strata and groups
and the semantic differentiation 01 interpretive (and legitimating) schemes and
structures of relevance pertaining specifically to institutions. social strata and
groups. This is the presupposition for the conscious acquisition and internalization
of knowledge on patterns of action that are relevant for the functioning of institu-
tions and the survival of social strata and social groups.
On the Individual Level: a.) Diachronically: mediating in the internalization of
socially pre-defined configurations of meaning. For the individual, these configura
tions of meaning form the basis of subjectively meaningful social behavior; they
are the background of things taken for granted in the planning of social actions
(d. A. Schutz, 1959) as well as in the socially determined interpretation ot the past
(cf. iv1. Halbwachs, 1925. 1950). Language mediates reality to the individual. It
mal<es it possible for him to find his bearings in the world as a persono b.) Syn-
50
chronically: the mediation of subjective intentions in intersubjective situations . .This
is the presupposition for the social action as an ongoing reciprocal relationship.
SfECONDARV
Language Is a quasi-ideal system of meanings. It is also the most important social
medium of knowledge. It also actualizes its potentialities in speech acts. In other
words, language is not only a sign-system but also a basic form 01 Imowledge and
a system of action. Like all forms of I<nowledge, language is socially distributed.
The social structure determines the chances of access to l<nowledge. The primary
functtons of language orlginate in its basic status as a sign-syslem; its secondary
functions derive from ts attributes as a form ot I<nowledge and as a system of
action.
The secondary functions of language manitest themselves in speech acts as
constitutive elements of social situations. The primary function of language evi
dently also emerges in concrete social situations. In fact. it 15 usually the main
function in the speech act. But it is characteristic 01 the secondary functions of
language that they do not depend directly on the semasiological structure of
language. They are however closely linked to other aspects of behavior that are
part of the concrete unity of social situations, expressions, gestures. clothing, etc.
The Indicative Function The basic social function of language is to enable the
speaker to objectify his communicative intentions in discourse, from orders to
scientific statements, and to enable the listener to grasp these inte,ntions in con-
gruent acts of interpretation. But every speech act inevitably indudes manifesta-
tions of subjective processes which the speaker perhaps did not intend to make
known. Because language is socially distributed, speech acts serve to categorize
and typify the speaker not only as to his momentary psychological disposition, but
also as to his social biography. In the speech act the linguistic sign also serves
simultaneously as a symptom or as an indication. In this respect language can be
compared to other aspects of behavior. Its complex but orderly structure, however,
is responsible tor its particularly high potential as a set of symptoms and indica
tions. Individual speech styles and linguistic repertories provide the listener with
a multitude of symptoms from which conclusions are drawn about the speaker's
emotional state, his definition of the situation and his social biography, i.e . his
background". These conclusions about the speaker form an"important part of the
information on which the listener bases his definition of the situation. The ability
to interpret speech styles correctly varies from one society to the next. It should
be noted that the correctness of such interpretations is also a matter of social
definition. Furthermore, incorrect interpretations may influence behavior as much
as correct ones. This "ability" is also socially dstributed. although the pattern of
distribution may differ from one society to the next (cf. R. Flannery, 1946; R.I.
McDavid Jr., 1948; G. Herzog, 1949; St. Newman, 1955; J.J. Calvert, 1950; A.
Valdman, 1959; W. Labov, 1968). The speaker may of course become aware that
his speech does not only objectify his communicative intentions but also transmits
information that is not semasiologically encoded by him. This is a matter of simple
51
ana!ogy: every speal<er is al so a listener. The speaker therefore mal<es use of his
accumulated knowledge about the interpretative conclusions oi typical listeners
lil<e him. He may then try to manipulate his speech style tor purposes of his own
(E. Goffman, 1959, esp. Ch. V).
The Phatic Function The phatic function derives al least partly but perhaps not
fully from the indicative function. The actualizations of language in speech acts
help to typify the speaker as a representative of a respected, beloved, hated,
despised, etc. social category. This typification leads more or less automatically
to the establishment of rapport, identfication, solidarity and, o course, their oppo-
sites, Le., dislil<e, hatred, conflict. Language plays an important role in the cohesion
of groups as well as in conflict among groups (L. Marshal, 1961). This has been
documented for a wide variety of social groups includ!ng criminals (D.W. Maurer,
1939.1950, 1955), drug addicts, school children (1. and W. apie, 1immigrants
and minority groups (G.C. Barker, 1947, 1950; J.A. Fishman, 1964, 1965a) but also
for professional groups, religious sects, social strata (ef. A.R. 1962),
political groups (cf. R. Sereno, 1949) and nations (H.L. Koppelmann, 1956). It is
surely significant that in tlle "folk sociology" of everyday lite secondary functions
of language occupy an important Distinguishing secondary functions from
the primary social function 01 language has a heuristic purpose. 1t aids in the
analysis of extremely complex processes. But jt must not lead to a reification of
eoncepts. It therefore hardly needs to be stressed that the various social functons
01 language are empirically intentioned. To menton one example: the accidental
meaning of the sign may be in11uenced by secondary functions as they appear in
the social situation of concrete speech acts. The speech aets are embedded in
typically recurrent social stuations which are pre-defined by the social structure.
The secondary functions which are actualized in these situations are thus co-
determined by the definition of the situation on the part of actors. If they. persis-
tently modify the accidental meanings of the semantic components of the speech
aet they will eventually also change its signi1ication. Language "determines"
speech acts; speech acts "determine" language. The semasiologcal function of
language and its secondary functions 'are in a dynamic relationship at the intersec-
tion 01 historical and subjective processes. Language s a quasi-deal system of
signs that is produeed and maintained and modified in concrete intersubjective
human activities.
5 ibUogrraphic lPostscript
on tlhe last Years
I said in the introduction that I could not try to presenl a systematic review 01 developments
in the years that passed sinee I wrote this essay. The pasl dozen years. the first six years
of which I did attempt to cover, were characterized by an extraordinary expansion of ni eres!
52
in language in various disciplines. Sociology was one 01 them. 1 haven't made an exac\ GQuot
of publications in Ihis area bul I venture lo guess that more work on language
was published in lhis perlad than in all other years 01 Ihe eXlStence 01 as
independent intellectual discipline pul togelher. I cannat do more glVe .cursonly
annolated selective biblography of sorne 01 the developments tha! In my oplmon were
parlicularly importan! in the second half 01 these dozen years 1960. as a supplement
lo the main bibliography. I hope that this will help readers who are senously mterested to work
their way through what is now a veritable maze of publications. I may have
books 01 importanee but I am convinced that !ollowing up the the selectlon
01 bool<s presented here nothng of real sgnlflcance for the 80CIOlogl61 wllI escape the
reader. . . r
Most developments followed the general paUarn that was ear ler
years, Tha study of the lnks between language chddren 15 vlgorously
pursued in varous countries. The seeds of the ploneenng wark ?f Vygotsl<'y and the
Sterns are beginning lo bear frui!. The lines dividing psychology, IlngUlstlcs and soclology are
becoming increasngly blurred in these investigations. T.he was
healthy_ 11 encouraged well-executed interdisciplinary investlgabon and Oflgtnal conlnbutlOns
to knowledge in this area. Among these are:
Bernstein, Basil .
1971 Class Codes and Control. Volume 1. Theoretical Studies towards a Soclology of
Language. London.
Helmers, He'rmann
1969 "Zur Sprache des Kindes." Darmstadt.
Lawton, Denis
1968 Social Class, Language and Education. london.
Oevermann, Ulrich . .
1972 "Sprache und sozale Herkunft," Ein Beitrag zur Analyse schlchlenspezlsch.er
Sozialisationsprozesse und ihrer Bedeutung fr den Schulerfo!g. Franl<furt am Maln.
Robinson, W.P. and Susan J. Rackstraw .
1972 A Question of Answers. London and Boston.
Smith, Frank and George A. Miller .
1966 The Geness oi Language, A Psycholinguis;tic Approach, of a
ence on "Language Developmel1t in Children," sponsored by the Natlonal
of Child Heallh and Human Development, Natonallnstitute of Health. Cambndge,
Mass. and London.
Lambert, W.E. and G.R. Tucl<er .
1972 Blngual Education o{ Chi/dren. Rowley, Mass.: The St. Lambert Expenment.
But the sudden fashion of Ihe concept of socialization, its ideologcal exploi.lation and some
rather derivatory writing in educational theoryand research have also provlded the context
far a fload of pseudo-scientific nonsense. ....
This development is intimately connected with the revival 01 nteres! In In .the
sixtes. Writing on language and social class expanded by 10 thls
The warl< of Bernstein and associates on class codes and soclahzatlon In England, slmll.ar
worl< by Oevermann and others in Germany and worl< Labov and ott)ers on the sO?lal
stratilication of American English not only provlded empmcal knowledge and theoretlcal
clarification of an important problem, but was exploited in peculiar ways by vari.ous intellectu-
als and semi-intellectuals who claimed public attention by riding on he coat-Ialls ?f s?holarly
and non-scholarly farms of social criticismo An aimast endless strear:' .of pubhcatlons 00
linguistic barriers to "emancip.ation" and the UI{8 was the result. Some of IIIS worthless. Some
of it cannol be reieeled of hand. It is symptomatic of a search tor knowledge-
for the sal<e of policy and, perhaps. change tar the better-on an important Issue. The degree
of linguistic "determination" of cognitive pertormances in the context af slructurally deter-
53