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Sociolinguistic Experiment

Sociolinguistic Experiment

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Sociolinguistics, which is a cross disciplinary field, addresses a number of questions, which belong to the fields of interest of both sociology and linguistics. The problems, which researchers attempt to address nowadays, are the influence of a language on a society and vice versa. Along with other language peculiarities within a speech community (“the location in which patterned variations in selection from the available repertoire takes place” (Spolsky, 2009), multilingualism is being studied at different angles. The question the research will try to answer is “How individuals or societies become multilingual?”

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The experiment is related to multilingualism, since nowadays, a huge number of societies are multilingual, and individuals speak two or more languages. Language contact phenomena result in mixing the languages or replacing one language with the other. The research is devoted to the analysis of the Finnish society and the Finnish language, and the way it is influenced (in terms of grammar and phonology, as well as sociocultural aspects) by the languages of the minority groups, such as Swedish, Russian, English, and Arabic, which is the research question, and presents a specific problem in the society. The objective is also to find out the reasons that make languages to come in contact. The research will be based on gathering insights, which mean that it is supposed to employ qualitative data collection methods. However, in order to analyze the acquired linguistic material, quantitative methods will be used as well.

Among the data collection methods, chosen for the experiment, are interviews, questionnaires, netnographic research. The linguistic analysis will be constructed starting with the identification of language variables both phonological and grammatical at the level of phonemes and discourse. Therefore, ”for each variant, we want to know not only its relative frequency, but also whether contextual elements influence that frequency” (Podesva, & Sharma, 2013. 445). Among social-symbolic functions of variation in the research are social groups and ethnicity. Therefore, while recruiting speakers for the research, one will include a factor group for a speaker’s ethnic background and the one, which includes the degree of the speakers’ orientation to the ethnic group, they belong to, reviled from the answers to the questionnaire, designed beforehand. The next stage of the research is devoted to the collection of data by means of focus groups interviews. The participants will form the groups according to their ethnicity. In addition, netnography will be used in order to gather linguistic material, which will be later analyzed with the aim to reveal how the above mentioned languages influence the Finnish language on the phonnological level as well as the level of discourse.

The importance of the research problem is explained by the fact that language planning, and policies, related to a certain language use, are heavily dependent on the natural processes and the change during the language contact. As there are two official languages in Finland (Swedish and Finnish), the additional outcome of the research might be the impact of the findings on politicians’ decisions regarding the status of the state languages, as well as the status of the ethnic minorities groups.

The results of the sociolinguistic experiment or research will be presented in the form of a chart, where the grammatical and phonological changes that took place in the Finnish language under the influence of Swedish, Russian, Arabic and English will be summarized. The research will also discuss the possible external causes of the impact such as immigration, education etc. Finally, the conclusion will be drawn on the basis of the evidence relating to which language has a larger share of influence on both the Finnish language and society, and if the status of the languages should be reconsidered. It is expected that the results of the research will show that the language of the ethnic minority, whose population constitutes a larger share of the Finnish society, will have a greater impact on the Finnish language and culture.

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