Sociolects. Language Variations in Sociolinguistics

Vernacular, Slang, Jargon, Register, Discourse, Domain, Argot

Term Paper, 2017

12 Pages, Grade: 9


Table of Contents


2 Introduction

3 Social Dialect or Sociolect
3.1 Vernacular
3.2 Slang
3.3 Jargon
3.4 Register
3.5 Discourse Domain
3.6 Argot

4 Conclusion



The way we speak is a great indicator to show our social background because there are many features which can be used as clues. In this research we will give contribution to the investigation of social varieties of language such as sociolects. This study will deal with sociolects as a cover focusing mainly on Sociolects: Vernacular, Slang, Jargon, Register,Discourse Domain, and Argot. Sociolect is when a person speaks in accordance with the social group.If we know the history of different varieties of a language we can learn about the region, history and people. The speech of the dominant class is referred as the standard speech whereas the speech of the minority groups is referred as dialects. The main aim of this study is to explore the above mentioned concepts and differentiate them one by one.

Key words: Sociolect, Group, Society, Concept, Language.

2 Introduction

The way you speak is an indicator of your social background and there are many features as clues. This study will deal with socilect, also in this study we will talk about vernacular, slang, argot, domain, register and jargon. We will give a brief overview of them one by one by analyzing the definitions, terms and examples. In order to speak about sociolects, we first should mention what is a dialect? and then maintain the difference between social dialect versus dialect also we should differentiate social dialect versus regional dialect. As we know a dialect is a variety of language which is spoken in a particular geographic region, it is a natural variety of base language that has characteristics that may identify the speaker with a region, an era,for example: American English, British English, Mandarin etc. In basic terms dialect is a speech community within an isolated geographic speech that use regional language variations. Sociolect is a variation of language between different social groups, whereas dialect is a variation of a language from region to region. Students should increase their knowledge in the concepts of vernacular, slang, argot, domain, register and jargon.We have five dialects according to linguistics such as: standard dialect, non-standard dialect, Regional dialect, Social dialect and/or sociolect and temporal dialect but the main aim of this research paper is to talk about sociolect: vernacular, slang, argot, domain, register and jargon of English language.

3 Social Dialect or Sociolect

Sociolinguistics is a relationship between language and society. One should know that this development of investigation is done with the help of linguistics that interacts with other academic disciplines that have to do with language such as sociology, social psychology and anthropology. If we try to analyze a language from a social perspective we use all these connections. Based on the urban dictionary that states :

“In sociolinguistics, a social dialect associated with a certain socioeconomic class, ethnic or age group. It is a combination of the terms "social" or "socioeconomic" with "dialect."1

Social dialect or sociolect is dialect that concerns with the social status and class. This means that social class refers to the difference of people in education, wealth and prestige. Traditional study of regional dialects concentrates on the speech of rural areas, whereas the study of sociolect is concentrated in towns and cities. In studying social dialect, we have two groups of people, such as middle class (those who have more years of education and perform non-manual work) and the working class (who have fewer years of education and who perform manual work). So if we refer to working class speech we are talking about a social dialect, whereas if we refer to the terms upper-class or middle-class speech, we see that we have to do with another type of dialect because they separate the groups mainly on economic basis that makes Upper or Middle class another type of sociolect. We can see from this group of people that they do not use the same way, for example teachers do not speak the same way like farmers, also lawyers do not speak the same way as criminals, and that makes the sociolect. As we can see sociolects examine the relationship between social class, prestige, language factors, education, occupation, income level (upper, middle, low class of English),for example Standard English can be classified as a type of social English spoken by the well-educated speakers of English throughout the world.2 If we look for other examples of language we might use characteristics of social dialect, we treat the pronunciation of the word as a linguistic variable as well as social variable. We can also investigate the systematic variation of usage by counting how often speakers use each version of the linguistic variable.

3.1 Vernacular

Vernacular is a language spoken rather than written formally by a group of people who have the same profession, live in the same region and country. Vernacular describes everyday language that is used by people. Verncular is uncodified and unstandardized variety, it is used at home as a first variety, and it is used for relative circumscribed functions. Vernacular differs from official language or literary language because it is like people talk with each other as well as families talk at home with each other. Vernacular is one of the most hardest things because students cannot get rid of writing in formal ways at school because they use vernacular writing which is naturally a difficult process. We can also specify groups of people who use vernacular speak in a region and/or in a profession.3 People use vernacular in day-to-day, they use it when informally. The opposite of vernacular is formal writing, such as the language of foreign diplomat and language used in papers officially. The use of vernacular language can be different from place to place because people use different speaking through regions. Vernacular has some advantages because people sound more naturally, vernacular creates a closer relationship between writer and reader, it becomes easier to read. By using vernacular people can express harder things that may look complicated for them, and they can do it by writing formally. If we use too much vernacular we may sound totally messed up, imagine if a wrote this research paper without using comma(,), point(.),punctuate this article all over the place while using vernacular writing we may look ridiculous, therefore we need amount of formal language is absolutely helpful. Vernacular has disadvantages if you use it a lot since it can damage your writing, for example if you write to a company for job employment and if you write using vernacular, your employer may think that you are not interested and you may sound uneducated. There are many problems to get rid from vernacular but people should use formal language because it is really helpful for academic purposes. We can see that politicians use vernacular a lot in their speeches, this was quite rare before the mass media, they used formal because they showed their education and serious in their job, today they use a lot of expressions like “hell yeah, you betcha, etc”.4

3.2 Slang

Slang is a vernacular language of a particular group such as youth sub-culture who they use slang in hip-hop,when they want to sound more unique and completely different from people surrounding them. Slangs are completely informal and must always be avoided in formal writing.5 Slang is an informal nonstandard variety of speech that is characterized by the change of words and phrases immediately. According to Michael Adams who states that:

"slang is not merely a lexical phenomenon, a type of word , but a linguistic practice rooted in social needs and behaviors, mostly the complementary needs to fit in and to stand out." 6

People usually use slangs during speaking and sometimes in writing. People who live in rural parts of the region use country slang, and urban slang is mostly used in cities. homosexuals, bisexuals, gays,and transsexuals use gay slang. Common slang is used by people everywhere. From our personal experience we can differ people depending on their region and culture, because it can be clearly seen from their own slangs, we have the case of American Slang, British Slang, Irish Slang etc. we will show some examples of slangs below:

“I can run up on him from behind that tree, jump right on him and Bob’s your uncle, mission achieved.” “Bob’s your uncle” which means “there you have it”.

This phrase is mostly by British citizens.

“Last night was flop. I was supposed to go to a party with my friends, but they flopped on me. They are all such floppers.”

This slang term flop means an event does not happen,because a flopper is someone who refuses the plan at the last minute.7

Slangs allows people to become creative in the use of language, some people use slangs in order to communicate with each other informally because they are from the same region, similarly they can identify other members of their subculture immediately. One of the reasons that people use slangs is that they feel unique and they are apart from others.

3.3 Jargon

Jargon is language that is used by a particular group or profession. Jargon can be used to describe correctly technical language in a positive way as well as describes language which is obscure, technical in a negative way. Jargon has its own vocabulary and it is widely used in an area of study, a specific career which share the same profession. We will give some examples of jargon below:

“A common dictum in allergy practice is that the patient’s medical history is the primary diagnostic test. Laboratory studies, including skin and in vitro tests for specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies, have relevance only when correlated with the patient’s medical history. Furthermore, treatment should always be directed toward current symptomatology and not merely toward the results of specific allergy tests.”

In the sentences above we can see that we have a medical jargon, whereas the meaning of dictum in plain English is a truth that is accepted in general, the laboratory is the lab, whereas symptomatology is simply a patient’s set of symptoms.

“This man was an involuntarily un-domiciled.”, is an unwanted, unnecessary jargon, because it has a negative meaning. Here the involuntarily un-domiciled allows a person to avoid saying the less attractive phrase “Homeless”. Jargon has both positive and negative sides.


1,(2012). Definition of Social Dialect. Retreived from:, 12th February.

2 Holmes,V.(2011) Social Dialect.


4 Ibid.


6 Nordquist,R.(2017) Slang in the English Language. Retrieved from:

7 LiteraryDevices: Definition and Examples of Literary Terms Retrieved from:

Excerpt out of 12 pages


Sociolects. Language Variations in Sociolinguistics
Vernacular, Slang, Jargon, Register, Discourse, Domain, Argot
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
argot, variations, sociolinguistics, sociolects, slang, register, language, jargon, domain, discourse, vernacular
Quote paper
Denis Kastrati (Author), 2017, Sociolects. Language Variations in Sociolinguistics, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Sociolects. Language Variations in Sociolinguistics

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free