How do culture and society influence language use?

society influence language



It means Society (a group of people sharing a common language, tradition, institution, culture, etc).


Linguistics is the scientific study of Language.

What is Language?

Language can be defined as (simply) the means of communication.


It can be defined as “the relation between Society and Language “

We can define Sociolinguistics in many ways. Such as

“” Branch of linguistic that deals with study of language in relation with society”.


Study of language from social perspective.

Now specifically we will discuss what the relation between Society and Language is.

Society is related to Language in a different ways. Some of them are

  • Society influence language
  • Language influence society
  • Bi-directional relationship
  • No relationship at all

how society influence language.

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Society influences language in a different way such as

  • Borrowing
  • Geographical Boundary
  • Class based/ Sociolect
  • Jorgan
  • Social Class or Sociolect

First, we will find Influence on the basis of Borrowing. Borrowing is the taking of words or words from one language and putting and using that word or words in your own or another language. For example, in our Urdu and Pashtu language, we have borrowed words from the English language and are using them in our own language. This is the influence of English people and the English society on us that we cannot use or make our own words in our own language rather we are using their words to be used in our language. Let’s take a look at some of the examples of the words Urdu has borrowed from English.

Laptop, TV, Mobile, Gas, Polish, Button, Fridge, Generator

The same words we are using in Pashtu language as well with a little difference in Pronunciation which is due to Education.

2nd influence is on the basis of geographical boundaries.

Pronunciation in different varieties is one of the main points that depicts society. Pronouncing the same word in different ways is one of the great Influences of society over the language. Let’s take a look at examples.

The people belonging to Dir. and Charsadda and some other areas in Pakistan, they cannot differentiate between the alphabet “p” and “f”. They will utter the word father as pather, the word fifty as pipty, the word fuck as puck, the word specific as specipic or sfecipic. But when the same person is brought up in some other city and in that city, the words are pronounced correctly so he or she will be able to differentiate between “p” and “f”. Thus we can conclude that it is the influence of society over language that when he or she is in Dir or Charsadda he will not be able to differentiate but when is brought up to some other city, the person will be able to differentiate.

Another example is that people from Bannu and people from Peshawar have different ways of pronouncing words indicating the influence of society over language. For example

Bannu                Vs               Peshawar

Mixha                                    monga

Thusay/ thu                          thasoo/tha

Dalay rosha                          dalta rasha

Wayrsa                                  warza

The difference between the British and American variety as well.

British                     Vs                         American

Wotah                                                   Water

Sharp(r is silent)                                 Sharp

Bratha                                                   Brother

Often (t is silent)                                 Often

Here the concept of Isoglass and dialectal boundaries arise. Isoglass is the difference, a single difference between two different varieties on the basis of geographical boundary. For example from the above example of Bannu comparison to Peshawar variety.  The first and single difference is known as Isoglass. And when there is one Isoglass, a line is drawn between these two regions, and when these differences increase a bunch of lines is being made and this bunch of lines is known as Dialectic Boundary.

Then we have an influence of society over language on the basis of Class-Based / Sociolect. Sociolect is different in varieties on the basis of social class. Social class is another factor that differentiates the language of the upper class from that of the middle class and that of the middle class is changed from that of the lower or working class. The language of the upper class is closed to that of standard language and the lower class is far away from that of standard.

We have a Turdgill explanation for that and also his triangle which defines that as we move forward means upward, on the upside is upper class so the language is more standard while we go down the regional variation increases, and the language changes to local language. In that way, societal differences are influencing the language.

Another aspect is / concept of Jorgen. Jorgen is the language used in a specific profession by a member of that specific profession and one important factor is that it is understood by the person of that profession. Here we see that professional aspects of the society are influencing the language and are making difference between different groups of the society.

For example, when a doctor is discussing something with another doctor for example a disease or medicine, so they will be using doctor’s language (ڈاکٹری زبان. Similarly, the code words used by Army man especially in the war are understood by the army man just and not by the common man.

Then we have an influence on the basis of Situational and Contextual. While looking at different situations in a society we can see that every situation has its own variety to be used. We have a concept of Register as well which can be defined as a variety spoken in a particular situation or by a specific group of people. A register is different from Jorgen in a way that Register is easily understood by common or all people while Jorgen is not understood by everyone but by the specific profession.

For example, a teacher uses one register inside the class while the same teacher uses a different register outside the class.

Then we have Diglossia which is the presence of two different varieties of the same language in society. We have two different types/ varieties here. The one is known as High Variety which is also known as the standard one. That one is used in formal situations like meetings etc. While the other one is known as variety low variety which is also known as Vernacular variety which is used in an informal situation like friends gossiping with each other.  

2 thoughts on “How do culture and society influence language use?”

  1. Pingback: Borrowing in Pashto from the Urdu language

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