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sarah saber

Choosing a topic for an MA thesis in Sociolinguistics

10 posts in this topic

hi everyone, i was wondering if anyone can help me choose a topic in sociolinguistics. i just need some help to be on the right track. i want to apply it on both Arabic and English language. i am currently reading some references about sociolinguistics. so, i was hoping for anyone to help me out

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Say more. What kinds of questions interest you -- think back to articles you've read and enjoyed. How would you apply your research to Arabic, do you have access to speakers? Why compare English and Arabic, what aspects do you find interesting?

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I'm doing my MA in sociolinguistics, too. I could probably give you some advice if you provided more information along the lines of what Fuzzy suggested. Especially considering the resources available to you is important -- a lot of sociolx research depends on collecting speech data or relying on corpora. But the field is really broad in what it considers, so it's definitely necessary to narrow your scope. Labov argues that all linguistic inquiry is (or should be) sociolinguistic in nature, after all.

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i do have access to both English and Arabic native speakers.  so, that's why i want to apply it on both and have it as a comparative study. i was also thinking about dialects description, or how does speech reflects society, i know that i have to read plenty of things to come up with a good topic, specially that i want an interesting one and not exhausted before. i am currently reading The Routledge Companion to Sociolinguistics and searching for articles about sociolinguistics.

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It sounds like you might be newly exploring the field. I could suggest looking at some papers from the Language and Linguistics Compass. That might give you an idea of what sorts of things you might consider doing. Here's a list of all the sociolinguistics titles: http://linguistics-compass.com/sociolinguistics/

 

If you want to compare English and Arabic, you'll need to think about what's special or interesting about differences or similarities between the languages or how they are used (e.g., if you want to do discourse analysis) in some aspect which has social relevance. That's great you have access to speakers of the languages, though.

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It sounds like you might be newly exploring the field. I could suggest looking at some papers from the Language and Linguistics Compass. That might give you an idea of what sorts of things you might consider doing. Here's a list of all the sociolinguistics titles: http://linguistics-compass.com/sociolinguistics/

 

If you want to compare English and Arabic, you'll need to think about what's special or interesting about differences or similarities between the languages or how they are used (e.g., if you want to do discourse analysis) in some aspect which has social relevance. That's great you have access to speakers of the languages, though.

thanks a lot, i will review this link, and hopefully it will benefit me, and thanks a million for your concern i really appreciate it. i will indeed need to read everything about sociolinguistics to explore it more as i did not study it widely in college.

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PLEASE I AM IN NEED OF TOPICS IN SOCIOLINGUISTICS FOR MY MA DISSERTATION. IN AREA OF LANGUAGE VARIATION, SOUND CHANGE, BILINGUALISM AND MULTILINGUALISM. I AM A STUDENT IN NIGERIA'S EASTERN STATE. THANKS. isongjnr@gmail.com

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In addition to what Fuzzy and Mystic said, I would say that one way to narrow down your options of potential research topics is to ask whether you want to deal with syntax, phonology, semantics, or the interface of any two of these three areas as it is relevant to English or Arabic or both. General language description or sociolinguistic description for a language, whether it is Arabic or English, is too broad as a topic for a MA thesis. 

Second, you said you wanted to deal with English and Arabic data. This is also really a very broad set of data to deal with. It may be helpful for you to specify what kind of Arabic and English data you are interested in investigating. For example, are the Arabic data you want to investigate classical Arabic, or Colloquial Arabic spoken in country X? You will also need to tell your potential audience of the thesis why you would like to compare specifically, say, variety Y of Arabic and variety Z of English. What are the generally theoretical implications derived from such comparison? The mere fact that you have access to the speakers of variety Y of Arabic and variety Z of English is not a sufficiently good argument for you to justify why you would like to carry out such a project. I guess there must be some phenomena you found in these two respective varieties of the two languages that propel you to consider carrying out such a project. So, I guess for now the first step for you is to formulate some sort of rationale to justify the purpose of the project.(which can also be used as part of the introduction and abstract of your thesis).

Finally, you will need to also think about the methodology of your thesis. Is your project experimental or theoretical or the both in nature? Whichever it may be, one important issue you need to consider is whether it is feasible within the timeframe of the MA program. Also, given that you are essentially doing a data-driven sociolinguistic project for an MA program, it is unlikely to you will be able to compare a number of different theoretical frameworks, and discuss thoroughly their strengths and weaknesses. So, it may be better for you to pick one theoretical framework to work in with your data from variety Y of Arabic and variety Z of English. You can acknowledge at the end of your thesis that the analysis you develop within theoretical framework X is one possible analysis for data A, B, and C, and other analyses within theoretical frameworks Y and Z for data A, B and C may also be equally valid, and you will leave that to future research etc. That way, you can avoid doing the MA thesis forever without completing it. 

 

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@historicallinguist, you do realize you are replying to a question from 2013? 

And @MOSES B, finding a suitable topic is one of the most important steps of writing a thesis, and not something anyone on an anonymous internet forum will just do for you. We *might* be able to help you narrow down a research question to make sure it's appropriate for an MA thesis, but the ideas have to come from you. You need to do your own legwork and certainly you need to be able to say more than that you're looking for a topic in "language variation, sound change, bilingualism and multilingualism", each of which on their own is already extremely broad. A good place to start is a class paper that you've already written and was interesting to you, as presumably that would be something that you've already done some reading on and that there are professors around who could advise you on. Alternatively, build on topics from classes or seminars you've taken during your MA, where presumably the professor had a reading list and discussed some background and pointed out open questions. You should consult with your advisor and course instructors to get the help you need. We can't really help you here. 

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