1. Introduction (Language and Social Communication)
Language is undoubtedly the most effective mode of communication among individuals and groups of individuals. A powerful emblem of social behaviour, language is used to communicate ideas and information which means that it establishes a system of links between individuals, i.e., the speakers and the hearers. Individuals form societies and therefore, language connects societies while connecting individuals. It is interesting to realize that while communicating information, the speakers send vital sociocultural messages through language, such as, who they are, where they come from, who they associate with and even what their intentions are. Therefore, language plays an important social role while transmitting information between individuals and societies. Ferdinand de Saussure’s statements that language is primarily a “social activity” and “language is socialized at every level, from the production of phonemes to the interpretation of complex meaning” in his work The Course in General Linguistics published posthumously in 1916, gave a new outlook to the study of language (Ferdinand de Saussure 2006). It discovered the inseparable relationship between language and society. According to Krishnaswami et al. (1992), “Language is essentially a social phenomenon since language lives in the minds and tongues of its users”. Communication through language, therefore, reflects a wide range of human behaviour both at the interpersonal and inter-group levels. It is being viewed and studied from different perspectives and the frontiers of the subject, therefore, are continuously and steadily moving forward. One of such frontiers is ‘sociolinguistics’, the study of language in relation to its users who live in society.
Setting: The drawing room of Manik Bora’s residence in Guwahati. Bora and his family are all set to go to South India on a holiday. While handing over the key of his flat to his neighbour who would look after Bora’s flat during his absence, Bora tells his neighbour that his part-time domestic help would come on alternate days to clean the house. The conversation takes place between Bora and his neighbour with the domestic help standing near them waiting for instructions on what all she has to do when her landlord will be away. It takes place in Assamese except towards its end:
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- Walt Wolfram. “Sociolinguistics”. LSA Fields of Linguistics, p.1.http://www.lsadc.org/org/web2/socioling.htm (Accessed September 27, 2001).