Language, Society and Culture

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSGA1EL1034

Semester and Year Offered: 2nd Semester, 1st Year

Course Coordinator and Team: Amol Padwad & Krishna K Dixit

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: None


The course is situated in sociolinguistics with themes from history, sociology, cultural studies, literature and politics. Beginning with the notion of language and its key features and functions, the course discusses the concepts of speech communities, language variations and varieties of language. It explores how language reflects and constructs aspects of socio-cultural reality like caste, gender, class, identity to mention a few. The course also introduces the complex inter-relationship between language and culture, and some postulates about the relationship between language and thought. The course ends with discussion of language and politics, both at larger national level and community level. It includes deliberations on how languages support and oppose hegemonic forces, the role of language in global political economy and the challenges and opportunities afforded to language by globalizing forces.

Course Outcomes:

On successful completion of this course students will have begun to:

  1. Understand the nature of language and speech communities
  2. Identify linguistic processes and phenomenon which reflect constructions of social and cultural aspects including caste, class and gender
  3. Understand how language may serve as a hegemonic and subversive force, and how globalization affects language
  4. Critically analyse language samples and linguistic acts to understand how socio-cultural and political constructs embed language

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Module 1: Language and Speech Communities

This module focuses on the nature of language and the processes by which speech communities come into existence. The key emphasis is on types of speech communities and variations and varieties of language.

Module 2: Language and Society

In this module the focus is on exploring surrounding socio-politico-cultural realities. The key themes emphasized are constructs such as class, caste, gender, identity; gender-specific language variations; and language registers.

Module 3: Language and Culture

The focus of this module is on exploring cultural constructs, language culture interface, language and thought dynamics, multilingualism and multiculturalism.

Module 4: Language and Politics

In this module the emphasis is on understanding language and hegemony, linguistic imperialism, language in globalization, mobility, migrations and language, and geopolitics of language.

Assessment Details with weights:

  1. Students will be assessed in continuous assessment mode on the basis of their participation in class as demonstrated through their work on short thought pieces that engage with the key concepts of the course in real life settings 10x2 = 20%
  2. Mid-semester Examination 20%
  3. Class Test 20%
  4. Final examination 40%.

Reading List:

Core Readings:

  • Morgan, M. (2014) Speech Communities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Chapter
  • What are speech communities)
  • Tuite, K. (2006) Interpreting language variation and change. In C. Jourdan and K. Tuite
  • (Eds.) Language, Culture and Society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Supplementary Readings:

  • Jourdan, C. and K. Tuite (2006) Language, Culture and Society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Philipson, R. (2011) Linguistic Imperialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Graddol, D. (2011) English Next: India. New Delhi: British Council.
  • Nemade, B. (2009) Nativism. Shimla: Indian Institute of Advanced Study. (Chapters 2 and 3)
  • Tharakeshwar, V. B. (2014) Caste and Language: The debate on English in India. In A. Uma,
  • K. Suneetha Rani and D. Murli Manohar (Eds.) English in the Dalit Context.
  • Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan.
  • Nakamura, H. (1964) Ways of Thinking of Eastern Peoples. Delhi: Motilal Banarasidas.
  • (Chapter 4 in Part I – “Minimizing Individuality and Specific Particulars”)
  • Prakash, A. (2017) Modernisation of languages: The case of Premchand vis-à-vis Hindi. In
  • M. Sridhar and S. Mishra (Eds.) Language Policy and Education in India. Abingdon:
  • Routledge.