Complexity Perspectives on Language, Communication and Society

Part of the series Understanding Complex Systems pp 15-34

Sociolinguistics: Towards a Complex Ecological View

  • Albert Bastardas-BoadaAffiliated withDepartament of General Linguistics, Complexity, Communication, and Sociolinguistics Group, CUSC – University Center of Sociolinguistics and Communication, Universitat de Barcelona

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As the sociologist Norbert Elias pointed out, there is a need of new procedural models to get to grasp the complex functioning of human-beings-in-society. An ecological complexity approach could be useful to advance our knowledge. How can we think of a sociolinguistic “ecosystem”? What elements do we need to put in such an ecosystem and what analogies could be applied? The (bio)ecological inspiration is a metaphorical exercise to proceed toward a more holistic approach in dynamic sociolinguistics. However, a language is not a species and, therefore, we need to make our complex ecology socio-cognitive and multidimensional. We need to create theories and represent to ourselves how language behaviour is woven together with its contexts in order to maintain language diversity and, at the same time, foster general human intercommunication on a planetary scale.