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LINGUIST 4SS3 Seminar In Sociolinguistics (C01)

Academic Year: Fall 2018

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. George Thomas


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 512

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 24388

Office Hours: Wednesdays 2 p.m – 4 p.m., or by appointment

Course Objectives:

TOPIC: Variation in the Framework of a Theory of Standard Languages


Language variation - whether on the personal, social, gender, stylistic or national level - is a key ingredient in sociolinguistics. One aspect of sociolinguistics which is somewhat neglected in Anglo-American scholarship is the nature and role of the standardization of languages. This course will examine variation from the perspective of standard languages. We will investigate the underlying motives for following or not conforming to prescribed standards. We will also concentrate on the theories, attitudes, strategies, organization and efficacy of attempts to criticize language usage and intervene in linguistic performance. Finally, we will look at instances where performance is putting pressure on prescriptive norms. Variation and standardization will be studied across a wide range of different languages and social contexts.


The first part of the term will be spent coming to grips with the concepts and theoretical principles beyond the level usually covered in introductory courses in sociolinguistics. In the second part, pairs of students will make presentations on specific problems chosen from a list generated in class. On each occasion, a third student will introduce the speakers and the topic. A fourth student will initiate the discussion.

These presentations, incorporating where applicable, classroom discussion, will form the basis of written term papers (which may be submitted jointly or as an individual effort). These are due on the last day of term.


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

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Method of Assessment:


  1. Each student will write a short introductory paper on one of the topics raised in class. It will contain a review of the literature and suggest a methodology for further investigation.
  2. Each student give an oral presentation in class on a chosen topic together with another student.
  3. Each student will act as chair or discussant of one of the seminar presentation.
  4. Each student (either alone or in collaboration) will write a term paper based on their oral presentation, incorporating where appropriate classroom discussion.


Short Written Report 20%

Oral Seminar Presentation 20%

Chair or Discussant of Seminar Presentation 10%

Written Report of Seminar Presentation 30%

Class Participation 20%


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Plese consult Avenue

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

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Other Course Information:

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