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Summary

Language is not a passive means of communication. In fact, it's the active process through which we construct societies, and, within them, our own social lives and realities. Language - as we use it in our day-to-day interactions - fundamentally shapes our experience, our thinking, our perceptions, and the very social systems within which our lives unfold.

Nowhere is the social role of language revealed more clearly than in the fascinating field of sociolinguistics. Among many eye-opening perspectives, the work of sociolinguistics points out that:

  • Language is strong social capital, and our linguistic choices carry both costs and benefits we rarely consider.
  • Our identity is strongly tied to the speech we use and our perceptions of the speech we hear.
  • Our children are raised, our relationships are made, and our careers succeed, in large part, through how we use language.
  • Language embodies a worldview: Your linguistic system reflects and affects the way you organize and understand the world around you.

In these 24 thought-provoking lectures, you'll investigate how social differences based on factors such as region, class, ethnicity, occupation, gender, and age are inseparable from language differences. Further, you'll explore how these linguistic differences arise, and how they both reflect and generate our social systems. You'll look at the remarkable ways in which our society is a reflection of our language, how differences in the way people use language create differences in society, how people construct and define social contexts by their language use, and ultimately why our speech reveals so much about us. Join a brilliantly insightful sociolinguist and teacher in a compelling inquiry that sheds light on how our linguistic choices play a determining role in every aspect of our lives.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2014 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2014 The Great Courses

What members say

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Narration far too fast

Narration was far too fast to hear clearly and without pauses, therefore no time to consider what had been discussed.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Lecturer's delivery is absolutely awful

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

A lecturer who did not do the following: make silly, immature jokes as asides during presentation, speak too rapidly, trip over their words, and inexplicably suddenly raise the volume of delivery

Would you ever listen to anything by The Great Courses again?

Absolutely - I'm delighted to have found the Great Courses. This has been my first experience of a course being completely ruined by the style of delivery

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Professor Valerie Fridland?

Professor Gary K. Wolfe, who narrates 'How Great Science Fiction Works' has the perfect style of delivery

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Anger, annoyance, frustration

Any additional comments?

I was really surprised at how this series made it into the Great Courses.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Interesting topic, but terrible lecturer

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The lecturer, full stop.

Would you ever listen to anything by The Great Courses again?

Definitely.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Constant rapid fire presentation that's too hard to follow, annoying tone, and cringe worthily unfunny jokes being made constantly. I nearly stopped listening numerous times.

Any additional comments?

Some acknowledgement of how autistic folks struggle with social subtext wouldn't have gone amiss.

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  • R.B.
  • 08-04-15

Like nails on a chalkboard

Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Valerie Fridland?

Yes but not if Mrs Fridland narrates it. One of the other reviewers pointed out how annoying her voice is and I have to agree. It's shrill, weirdly chipper,and just not comfortable to listen to for more than a few minutes.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Language and Society: What Your Speech Says About You?

I zoned out a lot during this audio book, something that very rarely happens. Mrs Fridland just didn't keep me interested all that long. The few points I do remember were interesting though.

What didn’t you like about Professor Valerie Fridland’s performance?

She has a high pitched voice, too shrill. Not pleasant.

Was Language and Society: What Your Speech Says About You worth the listening time?

I didn't retain a lot of the concepts. This might be a lecture better ingested from a written source material.

Any additional comments?

The content is interesting but I just couldn't finish it. Mrs Fridland's voice and fact that visualizing language-based concepts is hard make this for a fairly tough audio book to get through.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Noah Lugeons
  • 08-06-16

Worst Great Courses I've Heard

Painful attempts at humor, sudden yelling, and a subtitle so inaacurate I'd call it deceptive.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Jerusha Nelson
  • 03-10-15

Incredibly frustrating narrator

This book was maddening. For a linguist and professional speaker, the narrator sure struggled with the English language. She was constantly stumbling on her words and laughing at her terrible jokes. I couldn't force myself to finish it.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • M. S. Cohen
  • 12-01-15

Nothing like the other Great Courses

At the beginning of this book, Professor Fridland asks us to listen to her voice and then imagine what she is. Old, young? Where is she from? Educated or not?

From her speech, I got a 22 year old California sufer gal (for sure) with litter interests beyond shopping.

Turns out she's older and from the south. But I got none of that.

This book was a terrible disappointment. Not only does the professor sound like a college student, she put together a terrible course.

Over and over she would say something like "And there are many words that these people use in ways no other society does." This screams for a "for instance" or example. But she gave them so seldom you would think they came out of her salary to insert.

I wish I could return this book, but I fear I've kept it too long. (I kept trying to get through it, but couldn't get more than 15% of the way through.

The idea of an audio book on language and dialects is a great idea that goes way beyond what print can do. Unfortunately, this book doesn't rise to the concept.

28 of 33 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Tyler
  • 02-07-15

A lot of knowledge packed into this class.

First of all I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this in a previous review but I'm quite excited about the fact Audible is offering these Great Courses selections.

Anyway, the narrator is OK here, but the real gem is the content itself. If you are, were, or are someday considering studying English literature I strongly recommend this course!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • beotherworldly
  • 16-11-16

Lots of asides

I love language and linguistics and this lecture is great if you want more information on how language functions in society. The main drawback for me was the high number of corny jokes and asides the author makes. They add a nice touch of casualness if you like that kind of thing in a lecture, but I wasn't particularly impressed by them. (and there's a lot of jokes and asides)

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • OK Tamease
  • 04-07-16

Dull- does not hold my attention.

Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Valerie Fridland?

Yes, I would buy another book from the Great Courses, but not Professor Firdland.

What was most disappointing about The Great Courses’s story?

The course is boring.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Yes.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment. I love the topic, but could not handle the narration. .

Any additional comments?

I will return the course.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Sundogs3
  • 11-01-15

Very interesting

I really enjoyed these lectures. I have always been interested in accents and dialects and this lecture series was perfect and comprehensive.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Marco Antonio Lara
  • 11-11-15

Sad Clown

This poor uncharismatic women comes across as a squawkingly brainless air-head with her vapid, annoying American housewife voice and superficial, disqualifying nonsense of humor. No matter how solid her scholarly authority is (and to me it is only satisfactory, on a high school level), she undermines any academic legitimacy or popular appeal with butterfly frivolity, incoherence and stupid, insecure attempts at being cute. The first eight lessons are enough to stifle anyone's interest (there is some improvement after), she repeats herself, including painful jokes, and presents examples and illustration with clumsy ineptness. There should be more and better spoken clips, and they need more vivid analysis. Though she is qualified in her field, she murders the subject. Slow down, don't try to be funny, stop giggling, and go into greater depth in at least a few aspects of sociolinguistics.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Katydid
  • 27-03-18

disappointed

Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Valerie Fridland?

Never. Stupid jokes, jarring nasal female delivery. A horrible listen (and I did the whole thing).

If you’ve listened to books by The Great Courses before, how does this one compare?

Poorly. McWhorter is 100 times better at language. And he doesn't sound like he's trying to make you like him. Fridland's ridiculous forays into what she thought of as humor were downright annoying.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Professor Valerie Fridland?

Anyone with a voice that doesn't screech and mimic poorly. (And this from a language expert!!) And certainly I would have cast someone who did not see the need to include all those silly personal diversions about her hair, her children, and being a teenage nerd.

Any additional comments?

One of the few Great Courses I have actively disliked. Too bad, as I love the subject. Some of Fridland's treatment of the material was OK, but the delivery was so terrible that it took me about six months to get through it. Usually, I can knock out 24 lectures in under a month.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful