Sociolinguistics studies the complex interaction between language use and social structures. The increasing availability of language data and advances in machine learning and computational linguistics provides us with exciting opportunities to study sociolinguistic issues at scale, to learn about the use (e.g., variation), perception (e.g., attitudes) and dynamics (e.g., change) of language, in a vast array of socio-cultural contexts.
While research in the emerging area of computational sociolinguistics has shown great promise, there are also big challenges: In sociolinguistics, we find a longstanding tradition of interpretation-driven analysis, but most linguists lack the training to use large-scale computational methods. Conversely, while computational tools from computational linguistics can be used to answer a range of research questions, their development is often focused on technical innovation rather than the generation of new insights. So far, the two disciplines have been mostly unaware about the other’s research rationale and methodological potential.
This five-day interactive workshop aims to acquaint researchers from both disciplines – sociolinguistics and computational linguistics – with the body of knowledge available in the respective neighboring discipline and to support the development of computational linguistic methods grounded in sociolinguistic theory.