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Research Guides

LING/ANTH 432 & 532: Sociolinguistics I: Encyclopedic Sources

Guide to finding sources for Sociolinguistics I (LING/ANTH 432 & 532) coursework

Encyclopedic Resources

Encyclopedias summarize a number of sources and are good for brief overviews of a topic, without typically offering much depth. They may be general in scope, or be devoted to a particular subject or discipline. Encyclopedias frequently include useful general information, and may or may not include references to other materials for further reading. While encyclopedias have historically been put together by academic publishers, Wikipedia is crowd-sourced.

Traditional encyclopedias are considered to be more authoritative than Wikipedia due to the accountability between contributors and the publisher (as well as their colleagues in the discipline), while Wikipedia can be edited by anyone and may contain dubious edits. Wikipedia may still be useful, however, for summarizing a large amount of information, and for their references to other works for more information.

Encyclopedia of Language & Linguistics

This book, international in scope, is the most authoritative, up-to-date, and comprehensive reference source in the field of linguistics. Since the encyclopedia is discipline-specific, it provides a good overview of various topics in linguistics with succinct, accessible articles.

Linguist Information

There are a few ways to find information about linguists and their body of work in the Encyclopedia of Language & Linguistics:

  • Look for an article about them in the Biographies section.
  • Use the search feature to locate articles that discuss the linguist or explain how their work has been significant in specific areas of the field.
  • Browse the Authors section to see if your linguist contributed an article. If so, go into an article and then click on their name in the byline for a brief professional biography.


Like other scholars and scientists, many linguists are the subject of articles on Wikipedia. While these articles may not be appropriate for citing in academic contexts, they often include information that can be followed up on elsewhere. The References and External links sections of these articles often cite works that could be of use.