Sociolinguistic analysis essay Example

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Sociolinguistics is a branch of linguistics that studies language use in relation to social factors such as gender differences, class as well as occupational dialects (Eckert 2008). Jeddah is a city in western Saudi Arabia on the coast of the red sea. The official language in Jeddah and Saudi Arabia in general is Arabic. The language is used in two forms, the classical which has been used to write the Quran which is taught in schools and universities but it is considered a written language (Long 2005). While speaking, most individuals in Jeddah use the second form known as modern standard Arabic. There are several Arabic dialects used in Jeddah such as Najdi, Hejazi and Khaliji (Long 2005). English is also taught in schools and spoken by few. Individuals use language differently depending on their social background and cultural differences therefore forming different language communities. There are several language communities or people who use language and share the same language rules in Jeddah depending on their cultural differences as well as class (Long 2005). Gender is one of the aspects that make individuals use language differently together with education as this essay will analyze. In Jeddah and Saudi Arabia generally, boys and girls are treated differently in matters concerning schooling (Long 2005). Boy’s levels include primary, intermediate secondary as well as university. Before 1956, girls could not attend schools and they were taught at home (Long 2005). Today they don’t mix with boys in school. This essay will analyze language and gender in Jeddah as well as language and education.

Language and education

In the sociolinguistic perspective, language is a set of codes used for communication. It is affected by the environment in which it is being used so as to pass the required information. In the education environment, learning takes place through and by language (Wiseman 2010). As learners undergo various discourses of academic disciplines, language is very important as the tool for facilitation. The relationship between language and education in Jeddah for instance can be analyzed through the following categories.

Learning language

Young children in Jeddah learn how to communicate in Arabic through the environment they live in. As they join the school system, they can learn other languages as their second language such as English (Md, Sohel & Osama 2011). The development of use of complex structures in grammar as well as vocabulary and the process of gaining language competence through the environment and culture is realized through learning the language (Wiseman 2010). Language as a determinant of culture is learnt through interactions of the learner by the environment; it is not biological. This means that as individuals socialize they gain the competence of using language in communication. In Jeddah language learners will have competence in modern standard Arabic first which is used for communication and also the media in the city (Md, Sohel & Osama 2011). The phonological, morphological, as well the syntax structures of the Arabic language will be learnt as learners interact with the language. As learners undergo the school system, they learn the language of a broad range of disciplines in secondary as well as the post-secondary levels (Encyclopedia of Education, n.d.). They gain the competence to argue in discipline specific ways with their own set of language convections. In schools written language is also learnt slowly by slowly after the learner have already gained competence in verbal language. In post-secondary level, learners who specialize with language learn the different rules that govern the language as it is used for communication purposes (Wiseman 2010).

Learning through language

In Jeddah learners and teachers qualify to be a language community or a speech community since they share the same rules for speaking and interpreting language (Md, Sohel & Osama 2011). To them language is a forum of social identity and as they use it they indicate that they are members of that language community. In the school setting, learning is accomplished by use of language. Teachers usually give instructions on various concepts using language as a tool to pass the information. Learners, in their pursuit for knowledge interact with academic materials through listening, reading, writing or responding to the teachers using language (Wiseman 2010). In Jeddah for instance teachers, media and politicians pass information using the modern standard Arabic. Most academic materials in Jeddah as in Saudi Arabia state are written using this language. This means that the learning process in Jeddah is facilitated using the modern standard Arabic as teachers and students interact. English as language is also used significantly in the school setting. It is a compulsory second language to be used in all schools in Saudi Arabia, Jeddah included (Md, Sohel & Osama 2011).

There is several language practices exercised in schools as the teaching learning process is facilitated in Jeddah. One of them is scaffolding where teachers and learners interact by building on one another’s immediate previous utterance (Snell 2010). This makes the learners to understand the content better by use of language. There is also the I-R-F Practice where the teacher initiates a topic, the learner responds and the teacher gives feedback through evaluating using language (Snell 2010). This makes this speech community to use language in a special and different way to achieve their objectives. Generally as language is used and practiced in the education sector, factors such as gender, race native language as well as class among others will affect how best the language used will be of benefit to the learners (Encyclopedia of Education, n.d.).

Learning about language

The study of grammar and spelling in schools is referred to as learning about language. In lower levels of learning, learners are introduced to some simple rules governing how the language in question is being used (Snell 2010). The grammar that is taught in most schools in Jeddah is prescriptive in that it involves the basic rules in using the Arabic language in particular way. This may include the morphological aspect where learners are taught how to construct names (Eckert 2008). They are also taught how to pronounce different words in way that is accepted. The accepted Arabic language grammar is different from the spoken language and this makes teachers to embark on teaching their learners on how the correct language should be.

As pointed out earlier, English is a compulsory second language in all schools in Saudi Arabia Jeddah included (Md, Sohel & Osama 2011). Still in learning about language, English is taught a new second language to learners. This means that through learning about the basic structures of English language, learners are learning about language (Md, Sohel & Osama 2011). The learning here may include the history of English language as well its grammar together with vocabulary structures.

On the same line of language and education, there have been differences on the way people use language depending on their level of education. Individuals who are educated will communicate in better way than those who are not educated. As individuals interact in the academic field they become more used to passing information which relevant even outside academics. Understanding of communicated language becomes more as one becomes educated (Eckert 2008).

Language and gender in Jeddah

Men and women have been found to be using language differently. There are some characteristics are evident in the male speech and do not exist in the female’s. In Jeddah for example male and female members of the society may be using the same language in communication but differently. The different roles played by the male members of the society are different from what the female do (Long 2005). This is also evident from the way they use language for interaction as well as communication purposes. In Saudi Arabia and Jeddah city in particular, the society is dominated by the male members of society. There are some things that women are not allowed to participate and they are restricted from interacting with men who are not members of their families (Long 2005). The difference in the way they use their language may be as a result of the following factors.

Power in gender relations

In most circumstances the male communication is characterized by control, interruption as well as challenges contrary to their female counterparts. In other words male’s language behavior places them in a more superior position than female (Snell 2010). In Jeddah for instance, women and girls use standard language as they respond to the authority coming from their men counterparts (Long 2005). As culture in Jeddah puts it, women should always be subservient and they are restricted in engaging freely with men, it is also characterized in the way they communicate (Long 2005).

Use of sexist language as and discrimination

Different cultures Arabian culture included use gendered titles such as Mrs. or Miss. This pronounces the gender roles as well as expectations of the society about a given gender. Sexist language is considered to favor men and put women at a lower level in the society (Snell 2010). A good example is when using pronouns that are meant to represent men generally. This means that the society as in Jeddah can use the pronoun his or he in a general context to represent both men and women (Eckert 2008). This has been criticized by feminists by still dominate communication scenarios in Jeddah.

Strategies and styles in conversation

Women in Jeddah have the tendency of being polite and stylish in their communication (Long 2005). On the other hand, men’s speech is characterized by authoritative, forceful as well as direct and confident utterances. More intensifiers and qualifiers are evident in women conversations than men. This may include utterances such as “I think that” or adjectives such as “adorable” which may dominate a woman conversation but fail to feature when men are communicating (Md, Sohel & Osama 2011). The dominant position of the male members of the society brings these differences between the male and the female speech power. Women have been taught and encouraged to use a language that seems weaker in giving directions as well as polite (Md, Sohel & Osama 2011).

Prestige and attitudes

Women tend to be more prestigious as they talk. This is because of their high level of correctness as they pronounce each and every word which contrary on their male counterparts who have low prestige as they pronounce certain words. Md, Sohel & Osama (2011) argue that women are more correct in speech due to their lower class which is more insecure in the society as they aim towards reaching a higher and secure social class in the society. They believed that their speech style help them to be judged positively as well as their appearance.

Biological factors

The speech behavior between men and women can be as a result of inherent biological factors. The phonological, morphological as well as lexical aspects of language are different between men and women. This makes their voice characteristics different in that women voice frequency is twice as high as those of women (Md Sohel & Osama 2011).

Cultural factors

Even if men and women share the same cultural background in Jeddah, they can be viewed as belonging to different sub cultures and therefore they use their language to show their subcultural identity as either male or female (Eckert 2008). Md Sohel & Osama (2011) say that the female members of the society make use of their speech to maintain intimate friendship, equality together with showing support of one another. The male on the other hand use their speech to show power and dominance even if others are talking. These sub cultural differences may be the source of difference in the way they talk and use language to relate with one another as well as among themselves.

According to Md Sohel & Osama (2011) from those factors it is evident that in Jeddah:

  • The patterns of using language in men and women are developed differently.

  • In their interactions, women focus on affective functions than men.

  • Some linguistic devices stressing in solidarity are used by women more than men.

  • Styles of communication are more flexible in women than in men.

Other differences between the two ‘sub cultures’, with the meaning of men and women are shown in their conversations unconsciously.

  • Men have been found to bring more interruptions than women in a conversation.

  • They tend to be less communicative compared to women in different environments.

  • In a conversation between men and women, men usually fail to recognize the contributions of women.

  • Men tend to use curses more than women

  • Men have a lower gossiping attribute compared to women

  • In an environment where women are talking with one another, they tend to talk more than men do

  • When speaking in public, men are better than women.


Sociolinguistics is a branch of linguistics that examines the relationship between language and the society. Jeddah is a city in Saudi Arabia that can be considered as a speech community due to the fact that residents can be using the same language but differently depending on cultural as well as environmental factors. In the city, Arabic is language that is used mostly by residents but most of them can communicate in English. This is because English is considered the second compulsory language in Saudi Arabia schools and is usually taught. In the education sector, language is a very important tool in passing information among learners as well between learners and teachers. In the sociolinguistic perspective, learners are exposed in learning language where they get information on the basic prescriptive grammar of a language. In the process of socialization, learners get to know about language either spoken as well as written. They also use language in learning other discourse in the academic field. This means that learning and teaching processes are facilitated using language. Still in education learners get to know about language. Still in the same language group, gender differences have been found to cause difference in the use of language. The difference may be caused by power in gender relations, styles and strategies in conversation as well as using sexist language and discrimination. Additionally biological, cultural together with prestige and attitude factors have been seen to bring differences in the way men and women use language to communicate.


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12(4), 453-476.


«Language;Education.» Encyclopedia of Education. (n.d.). Language and Education. Retrieved

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Long, D. E. (2005). Culture and customs of Saudi Arabia. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Md, Sohel. R.. & Osama, K. M. (2011). Sex as an independent variable related to linguistics

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Snell, J. (2010). From sociolinguistic variation to socially strategic stylisation1. Journal of

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