What is Socio-linguistics?

This science supports and complements pragmatics. “It focuses on the fact that speech acts are determined by the real conditions of a given social situation in which the speech act is performed. The social relationship between two speakers defines the linguistic variety that needs to be used in each situation.” It is not the same if the speakers “belong to the same social group, or to different groups, if they speak the same language or come from different geographical regions, if they have different social roles – one is the parent and the other is the child, or one is old and the other is young, etc.”

The study is concerned with the way society uses language, as this usage is determined by different factors of contextual, geographical and social nature.

This proves that there is no such thing as a “unique language”, because every speaker, inside their community, can tell that not all people talk in the same way, and each person talks differently depending on the situation.

In order to summarize the information detailed above, we present a table extracted from a text by Fernando Carlos Avendaño.

Varieties Characteristics Types Observations



Depending on the situations in which language is used * Codes:

Distinction made especially at lexical level

* Registers:

Differentiated through the selective realizations made at phonological and morphological level

Technical, scientific, formal language

Informal and formal tones, levels and styles of language

Geographical Depending on the geographical distribution of the speakers


* Regional languages

* Dialects

* Regional speech

* Idiolects

Pronunciation, rhythm, vocabulary, grammar

Speaker personalization

Social Depending on the social status of the speakers * Informal language

* Slang

Fine, cryptic meaning


The conclusion is that people do not only need to be able to speak (that is, to be familiar with an abstract system of phonetic symbols), but they have to be skilled speakers – they need to use the language in an appropriate way.

Finally, it is important to signal a few characteristics that skilled speakers must have: competence, appropriateness, efficacy and clarity of the message.

Linguistic and communicative ability means that the speaker must know the linguistic rules that allow him to produce sentences that are correct from a grammatical point of view, and he must also know how social rules work, in order to convey his message adequately in various situations of communication.

The term “appropriateness” is related to linguistic variety and the ability of the speaker to choose the adequate registry depending on the situation.

Efficacy is attained when the speaker achieves through his message what he had proposed to. Finally, what is produced between two speakers is called a message (whether it is a short dialogue, a letter or a story), also known by the classical term of “utterance”.