Sociolinguistic Essay

For this project, you will perform research and analysis connected to a sociolinguistic topic of your choosing. One possible approach to this project would be to look at representations of specific language varieties in the media and any ideologies underlying these representations; for example, you might choose to explore how the southern U.S. dialect is represented in
contemporary horror films, or how AAVE is represented in network sitcoms of the 90s, or what sorts of characters speak with “Cockney” accents in fantasy films and television. If you take this approach to analysis, the selection of a narrow set of primary sources to analyze for representations of language varieties will likely yield the most interesting results, given that you
are writing a relatively short paper.
Another possible approach to this project would be to explore a specific language-related policy and discuss the language ideologies which underly the policy (similar to Sally Johnson’s discussion of the debate over German spelling reform in the Week 4 reading). Or you might discuss meta-linguistic discussions and debates in the “real world”; for example, you might
analyze criticism of linguistic features associated with “women’s language” in the corporate or political settings.
Whatever approach you take, your paper should include analysis of one or more primary sources (which could include a wide range of texts, such as newspaper articles, broadcast news, television interviews, commercials, radio shows, theatrical films, scripted television shows, and musical albums) in order to support an argument of relevance to the field of sociolinguistics.
Many of the studies we’ve looked at this semester (such as Rosina Lippi-Green’s analysis of Disney films) show how many sociolinguistic topics are hovering beneath the surface of the media that we take in every day, so the possible approaches to this project are endless!
You will produce a 4-6-page essay (standard 12-point font, 1-inch margins, double-spaced) on your topic. Your paper should include analysis of at least one primary text (see the list of possible types of texts above) and should include support for your analysis from at least two scholarly secondary sources. At least one of these sources should be a book or article not
already assigned as reading for this course.
Your analytical essay must:
1. Include a clearly-defined thesis in the introductory paragraph. A good paper will have a narrow, specific thesis presenting a thoughtfully-crafted argument. The introduction should set the stage for your paper in such a way that your reader is well-prepared to follow your argument. It should present any preliminary information necessary to understanding what you
plan to accomplish in the paper.
2. Be between four and six pages long (12-point standard font, 1-inch margins, doublespaced). Do not include the works cited page toward your 4-6 pages. Note that the minimum four pages are meant to be four full pages (not three and a half, etc.). Anything less will result in a deduction of points. No points will be deducted for going over six pages, provided that
your essay remains on topic.
3. Include supporting evidence for your argument taken from at least one primary source and at least two scholarly secondary sources. Academic Search Complete, the MLA International Bibliography, and JSTOR are good databases to search for peer-reviewed articles related to linguistics. You can also cite books published by scholarly presses. The library database has
access to quite a few e-books which may be relevant to your project.
4. Be composed of a well-organized and -developed body that supports the thesis and incorporates your sources. You should use examples and quotes from your sources to back up the claims you are making.
5. Conclude in such a way that revisits the thesis and confirms that the argument has been made successfully in the body of the paper.
6. Be addressed to a scholarly audience. Punctuation, grammar, diction, and tone should be appropriate for a scholarly audience and setting. Organize your paper in clearly-defined paragraphs that present ideas in a logical order. As in the classroom, you must communicate your ideas respectfully and professionally.
7. Adhere to MLA standards (8th edition). This includes page format, internal documentation, and the works cited page.
8. Acknowledge all sources. Plagiarism is the presentation of another person’s ideas as if they were your own, whether paraphrased or reproduced word-for-word. It is possible to plagiarize without intending to do so, so you must take care when using sources to back up your argument. You must cite all sources within the paper itself and again in the works cited page. Papers including plagiarism will receive a grade of ‘0.’
9. Be submitted on the deadline to the plagiarism-detecting link provided on the Canvas course page

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