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Rural Sociology and ‘Rural’ Linguistics. The Biographical Method in the Study of Dialects and Languages in Contact

  • Głuszkowski, Michał
Published Article
Eastern European Countryside
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2018
DOI: 10.2478/eec-2018-0003
De Gruyter


In the year 2018, marking the anniversary of their original releases, the main of the article is to discuss the question concerning the applicability of The Polish Peasant in Europe and America (1918) by William Isaac Thomas and Florian Znaniecki and Młode pokolenie chłopów [The Young Generation of Peasants] (1938) by Józef Chałasiński, two crucial works in rural and general sociology to other areas of humanistic disciplines, with examples drawn from linguistic research. Here, we both characterise and justify the historical and contemporary relationships between sociology and linguistics both on a general level and in their rural varieties. Cooperation between representatives of the given disciplines is possible on the ground of structuralism and, in fact, is being implemented in many joint research projects. Rural sociology has established itself as a subdiscipline of sociology and has developed its specific thematic and methodological autonomy within the major scope of the field. The existence of ‘rural’ linguistics is not so obvious, but there are certain phenomena and processes observed in rural conditions which justify the use of such a term. However, it is not the officially accepted name of the subdiscipline which, in the present article, is defined as ‘linguistic (and sociolinguistic) research in rural area’ with constant references to dialectology. Hence, methods such as the personal documents method and the biographical method are already present in linguistics and sociolinguistics, although direct references to sociological works (both in general and specifically to both Thomas and Znaniecki’s and Chałasiński’s texts in detail) are rare. Still, some popular linguistic approaches – e.g. language biographies or the use of personal documents as a source of linguistic data – are very close to the ideas postulated by the precursors of rural sociology. There are also authors who have so far used Thomas and Znaniecki’s as well as Chałasiński’s theoretical achievements, while they refer consciously and directly to The Polish Peasant in Europe and America and The Young Generation of Peasants.

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