Contrasting the Social Construction of Language – The Socjournal – The Socjournal

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Nykolichuk M. Contrasting the Social Construction of Language. The Socjournal. 2010. Available at: Accessed July 14, 2010.

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Nykolichuk, Matthew. (2010). Contrasting the Social Construction of Language. Retrieved July 14, 2010, from The Socjournal Web site,

Chicago citation:

Nykolichuk, Matthew, “Contrasting the Social Construction of Language”, The Socjournal, posted June 20, 2010, (accessed July 14, 2010).

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Nykolichuk, M 2010, Contrasting the Social Construction of Language, The Socjournal. Retrieved July 14, 2010, from

MLA citation:

Nykolichuk, Matthew. “Contrasting the Social Construction of Language.” The Socjournal. 20 Jun. 2010. 14 Jul. 2010

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Durkheim would agree with me that the function of language is essential to socialization, but how exactly is language developed? A follower of Marx would say that a common language between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie would emerge (in order for the two classes to communicate) but the upper class would develop and use a different vocabulary set than the working class. This can be seen by an example conversation between Steve, a member of the working class, and William, who is the owner of a company.

Steve: “Hey Mark (Steve’s friend), how’s it going? I’m good. I heard the company is going through some tough times and there’s gonna be a huge round of layoffs. I’m pretty shaken. I’m scared for my wife and kids, I might have to take up another job on the side just to support them.”

William: “Hello Jon (The CEO), how are you? I am doing well thank you. The projections our analysts created are not being realized by our company. Unfortunately we will have to downsize a large section of our labor division. It will hurt us in the short term but the company will eventually stabilize itself.”

When using Marx’s conflict perspective, we can see how language can develop out of the conflict and difference between two social classes.

While the common functionality of language is universal, the way different societies construct their language is VERY different. Meanings for general nouns are the same, but grammar and syntax can be different. The example of French and English is one such contrast. There are MANY differences between French and English. In English when one says “I like you”, the syntax is noun-verb-pronoun in this case. But in French, if one wants to say “I like you” they say “Je t’aime”. In the French case the syntax is noun-pronoun-verb and if said like that in English would roughly be “I you like”.

The one thing that sociologists want to figure out in the case of languages is “Why do English speaking societies structure their language differently than French speaking societies?” And that is a very tough question to answer…..

VN:R_U [1.9.3_1094]

Clarity (abscence of rocket science)
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Grammer, punctuation, spelling

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