ARTS0001(A) Introduction to the Humanities









Course Code ARTS0001(A)  
Course Title Introduction to the Humanities – Language and Society 101  
  (人文學科導賞 – 語言與社會 101)
Class Date 18, 19, 20, 21, 24 and 25 July 2023

(26 July 2023 is reserved for class make-up in case there is any cancellation of classes due to bad weather or other unexpected factors.)

Class Time 9:00am – 11:30am
Class Location TBC  


Teacher Prof. Wilkinson Daniel Wong GONZALES

Assistant Professor
Department of English
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Medium of Instruction English
Course Description How is society related to language? Can language affect society, and vice versa? This course serves as a primer for the study of the relationship between language and society – as both an art and a social science. Students will be led through several popular culture examples around the world throughout the course, as they are introduced to the basic tenets of sociolinguistics. They will also have an opportunity to engage with course content with several hands-on activities, such as creating a perceptual dialectology map, translating an ancient English-based language to modern English, and analyzing K-pop videos. Towards the end of the course, students will have the chance to showcase what they learned by creating memes and sharing them with the class.


社會與語言有何關係?語言與社會能否互相影響?本課程作為研究語言與社會之間關係的入門課程,既是一門藝術,也是一門社會科學。通過本課程,學生將從世界流行文化示例中了解社會語言學的基本原理,並通過多項實踐活動參與進課程,如創建感知方言圖、將某種以英語為根基的古代語言翻譯成現代英語、分析 K-pop 視頻等等。結課之際,學生將有機會通過創建模因來向全班展示他們的所學的知識。

Course Content
Day Topic(s) Recommended Readings In-class activities (tentative)
  •  What is the study of language and society?
  • How are differences in language use among speakers (i.e., linguistic variation) crucial to the study of sociolinguistics?


(Meyerhoff 2018) Ch 1 Sharing: You say, I say (Variation in the languages of Hong Kong)
  • What about society affects language use?
  • Can one predict characteristics (e.g., age, ethnic, gender) of speakers with just language? Why or why not?


(Meyerhoff 2018) Ch 7 (Bouchard 2019) Telephone game: Language change accelerated

Celebrities under the microscope: Identifying social differences

Movie clip analysis: What makes a man or a woman?

  • Societal units of analysis: Speech communities, social networks, communities of practice


(Meyerhoff 2018) Ch 9 (Milroy and Milroy 1985) What does it mean to be cool? Analyzing Kumail’s network

Which clique(s) are you from? Practices from my school

  • Attitudes and ideologies
  • ‘Style’ and its many faces
  • How are these related to language?


(Meyerhoff 2018) Ch 3, 4 (Eckert 1996) Those in the New Territories say it this way: Creating a perceptual dialectology
  • When languages come together in different societies: what happens?
  • Does media actually affect language use? How is language represented in the media in different societies?


(Meyerhoff 2018) Ch 11 Collaborative translation activity: Chinese Pidgin English to standardized English
  • Gangnam ‘Style’: Musical performance and style
  • Connecting the dots
(Simmons 2014) Analysis of Taylor Swift, K-Pop videos

Kahoot! quiz

Multimodal reflection (Creating a meme + written reflection + class sharing)

Learning Outcomes By the end of the course, students are expected to:

  1. be familiar with fundamental concepts for and approaches to analyzing language in social context,
  2. engage with the topics discussed by connecting them to contemporary real-life examples;
  3. begin developing a capacity to reflect on issues in language and society that they encounter in daily life.Students should understand the basic concepts of cultural heritage.
Recommended Reading(s) / Reference(s)
  1. BOUCHARD, MARIE-EVE. 2019. Ongoing change in post-independence São Tomé: The use of rhotics as a marker of national identity among young speakers of Santomean Portuguese. Language Variation and Change 31.21–42. doi:10.1017/S0954394518000182.
  1. ECKERT, PENELOPE. 1996. Vowels and nail polish: The emergence of linguistic style in the preadolescent heterosexual marketplace. Gender and Belief Systems, ed. by Natasha Warner, Jocelyn Ahlers, Leela Bilmes, Monica Oliver, Suzanne Wertheim, and Melinda Chen, 183–190. Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Women and Language Group.
  2. MEYERHOFF, MIRIAM. 2018. Introducing sociolinguistics. 3rd ed. Taylor and Francis.
  3. MILROY, JAMES.; and LESLEY MILROY. 1985. Linguistic Change, social network and speaker innovation. Journal of Linguistics 21.339–384.
  4. PODESVA, ROBERT J. 2007. Phonation type as a stylistic variable: The use of falsetto in constructing a persona. Journal of Sociolinguistics 11.478–504. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9841.2007.00334.x.
Course Assessment Participation in in-class activities (30%)

Kahoot! Quiz (30%)

Multimodal reflection (40%)

  • Create a meme (10%)
  • Written reflection (20%)
  • Class sharing (10%)
  Students who are enrolled in BOTH ARTS0001(A) and ARTS0001(B) will ONLY earn a maximum of ONE credit as free or major elective which may count towards their undergraduate studies at CUHK in the future upon successful completion of the courses.
  The above course information is subject to change and approval.
Last updated on 27 February 2023