In linguistics, under the name of social variants we recognize the different variations that exist between the ways people speak, different from the idiomatic differences. For example: geographic variants, ethnic variants, gender variants.
It happens that speech is by no means an exact science, but on the contrary its use depends on a family and social transmission, and therefore on certain processes that influence a person’s learning of language and its use.
The name ‘social variants’ encompasses a huge range of differentiations that influence the way people speak, within which the socioeconomic stratum in which each one is found stands out.
In general, the social relationship that is presented is that the wealthiest people have reached education levels that allow them to have a richer vocabulary and to be able to express with a very wide range of concepts something that a less educated person only achieves with a smaller spectrum of words, which makes them start to use new expressions that over time they become their own. Many of the words known as ‘popular’ and transformed into typical of the different regions owe their origin to these new ‘terms’.
The category of ‘social’ can only be discussed since the linguistic variations they also have a lot to do with what geographical. It happens that it is easy to notice that in the different countries that handle a language it is common for large differences to appear in the way of communicating: expressions, typical words or rhythmic ways of speaking vary according to each country (or even regions within the language). same). In any case, this variation is considered a social one, since it ultimately occurs with respect to different societies.
In that sense, each reason why language is modified constitutes a social variant. They are listed below, detailing their scope.
Examples of social variants
- Geographic variants. As said, the area of residence (and especially that of internalization of language) is fundamental for people’s speech. The particular form that each society has to carry out speech is called dialect, although lately the term was limited to the speech of peoples that no longer exist, and was replaced by geolect.
- Ethnic variants. Beyond geographic borders, ethnic groups share modes of expression that sometimes give rise to so-called ethnolects.
- Gender variants. Although it happens less and less in the West, at some point it was common for men to communicate in a different way than women. These characteristics are known as sexolect.
- Diachronic variants. Language transformations take place over time, so it is to be expected that two people from different eras do not share major codes in language.
- Age variant. Within the same moment, it is common for people of different ages to know different terms. Juvenile or adolescent slang are part of this variation. These variations are known as chronolects.
- Professional variants. People engaged in the same activities often share ways of expressing themselves. Included here are the technicalities of the different scientific disciplines, known as technolects.
- Instructional variants. As said, the level of education achieved by a person is a determining factor in their way of communicating.
- Contextual variants. The same people in certain contexts speak in one way and in others in another. The well-known ‘registry’ shows this, constituting a new variant.
- Sacred languages. Common in a few tribes, they are different ways of communicating that people have only for acts of greater religious content, according to their beliefs.
- Marginal variants. It is common for the areas where people are marginalized (mainly prisons, but also in some cases slums) form their own jargons, which represent a new social variant.