Sociolinguistics comprises a series of theories and methods that are interested in the manner and consequences of the relationship between language and the sociocultural environment in which it manifests itself. The limits of this set are set more by the objects of study than by the theories and methods that allow reaching their knowledge. These objects of study are mainly of a linguistic nature, but they can also be psychological, cultural and social, understanding the psychological as that related to the mind and the speaker as a person, the cultural as that related to the objects and knowledge that they characterize a given habitat and the social as the product of relationships between individuals in a group, between groups in a community and between communities. Sociolinguistics is an approach, a perspective from which all the features and uses of natural languages can be interpreted, since any linguistic manifestation occurs in a context and within a sociocultural environment.
Sociolinguistics represents an interdisciplinary proposal that links different interests and offers a point of view from which to understand the relationship between language and the sociocultural environment, so that one and the other can be treated through concepts, methods and techniques that reflect different emphases (Villena 2009). In general, when the figure is the language and the sociocultural background (linguistic emphasis), language is conceived as a set of varied, variable and evolving elements, whose form and dynamics respond to the influence of sociocultural factors (Labov 1996 –2006); when the figure is society and the background is language (social or anthropological emphasis), society is conceived as a network of structures, norms and trends with the capacity to influence people and their linguistic uses (Fishman 1975; Hymes 1974 ).
The relationships between language, society and culture are manifested in multiple ways, forming realities of blurred borders in terms of their content. The social distribution of linguistic uses within a community, the ways in which social relationships are established through communication, the procedures for adapting discourses to the characteristics of a sociocultural environment or the way in which a language evolves over time, in a community or in a geography are just some of the issues that make up the linguistic and sociocultural reality; that is, sociolinguistic reality. To approach its analysis and interpretation, an exact match between a type of sociolinguistic fact and a specific type of theoretical-methodological proposal is not usually found, but often the same linguistic manifestations receive different analytical treatments. We can say that sociolinguistics functions as a research superstructure that subjectively delimits broad and diffuse realities and frames them with no more justification than its own conceptual or method restrictions.
Sociolinguistics can be developed from various disciplines which, in turn, tend to be very close to other disciplines that are no longer considered sociolinguistic, such as historical grammar or linguistic geography, on the linguistic side, and history or social psychology, on the other. the sociological side. The different disciplines or ways of doing sociolinguistics receive denominations such as the following, which we accompany with a very simple characterization:
Variationist sociolinguistics: study of the correlations between variable facts of language and variable social traits within a community.
Social dialectology: linguistic characterization of a territory taking into account the social characteristics of its speakers.
Historical linguistics: study of the internal evolution of a linguistic variety conditioned by social factors.
Conversation analysis: study of conversational exchanges. Discourse analysis (social): study of the form and function of discourses in a social setting.
Study of languages in contact: analysis of the form and consequences of the contacts between linguistic varieties.
Sociology of language: study of the distribution and social function of linguistic varieties.
Study of bilingualism: analysis of bilingual speakers and communities. Ethnography of communication/Ethnographic sociolinguistics: study of the communicative interactions of a group or a community.
Study of linguistic attitudes: analysis of opinions and beliefs about linguistic varieties.
Social history of language: study of the social evolution of a language within a community.