Social variants have to do with the different languages ​​that can be used in the same country or region, which is why they are also known as sociolects

since it is the way in which people speak and at the same time it is an indicator of social origin.

Communication in societies can be as mixed as it is homogeneous, and these varieties are known as sociolects or social variants. In this post we will review the variations of the language, we will describe what types of variants exist and we will also list some examples of sociocultural variants that will give you an idea of ​​how speech connections work in society.

What are social variants or sociolects?

Sociolinguistics, which studies the relationship that exists between language and society, maintains that social variants or sociolects are those that are directly associated with a certain socioeconomic class, ethnicity, or age group and, on the other hand, their name is a combination of the terms “social/socioeconomic” with “dialect”. This discipline studies the language used in towns and cities.

That said, we clear up the question of what social linguistic variants are by understanding that sociolect refers to social status and class. In this context, the social variants of Spanish expand on the differences that exist between people according to their education, wealth, prestige, or social class.

To carry out a study of the social variants of Spanish, it is necessary to understand the differences that exist in the discourses of the social classes (high, middle, low) and, in this way, the types of dialects that separate the groups mainly in the economic aspect, but it also applies to the educational level; for example, a person who works in the field does not use the same terms as a teacher or a lawyer, just as an antisocial person does not express himself in the same way as a doctor.

How do they influence language?

On the other hand, the issue of what are social variants also gives space to analyze how it influences the language of a society. In the first place, the influence of social variants directly affects the ease with which people can be differentiated, according to their dialects, which correspond to the locality and social class; that is if it is from a town or city.

Secondly, it is that same differentiating factor that makes people quickly pigeonholed by the way they speak, since it becomes evident that a country person does not live in the city because their dialect does not match with that of the people of that stratum; The same applies to ethnic groups and other social groups. Sociolects are always shared in a group and this can mean that others do not fully understand the language that they usually use in their daily communication. 

However, it does not only influence the negative side, since the confluence of dialects is inevitable and that has meant that some expressions and words of the sociolects are gradually included in the natural language of social classes.

Types of social variants

Having defined what the social variant is, it is time to go a little further on the subject of sociolects, which can be differentiated in this way:


The dialect, of course, is part of the social variants, since it encompasses the different ways of speaking a language, according to the groups of people. An example may be the Spanish spoken in Spain, which has its variants in Galician, Valencian, Basque, Andalusian, Canarian, etc. On the other hand, the same happens with the English language of the United States, since it can vary between Southern English, Standard English, or Spanglish.

In turn, the dialect is also made up of the accent and the pronunciation, so this can vary according to the regions of a country, since the way of speaking and expressing oneself tends to be different, depending on the social group. It is necessary to highlight that the dialect, being so varied, like the sociolect, can create space for confusion or misinterpretation of words, even if it is the same language. 

vernacular or native

On the other hand, the vernacular is the language spoken by people who live in the same region and country, it is the everyday and informal language used between relatives and close friends. In this case, when speaking of vernacular, it refers to that way of expressing oneself and relating as families speak at home; it is distinguished from the official language or the literary language by its daily nature and the informality that characterizes it.

Also, this native language can be different from one place to another because people use different ways of speaking according to the regions; however, that does not leave it far from being natural, and from being a way to create closer and easier to connect relationships. In addition, it can be read fluently and is much better understood than formal language, which is not processed by people with a low level of education. The vernacular language is accepted but it is not recommended to abuse it.


Another type of social variant is slang, which is made up of a specialized vocabulary that is used by a particular group of people. Sometimes, the use of slang is usually related to the language of low funds, antisocial and non-literate people; however, this has a lot to do with the way they speak in certain regions of a country, or also how people who belong to a fan club (fandom) or a specific social class speak.

For people unfamiliar with the use of certain terms, slang can be incomprehensible and accentuate the divisions between “us and them”, perhaps to the point of being derogatory because “they” are from a “fringe” group. In addition, slang can also be used to speak in code about illegal or questionable activities to avoid being exposed.

It is worth noting that originally, the term was born in France and was a language used by illustrious people such as Victor Hugo, who thought that this way of speaking and writing made his texts more engaging and interesting. Today, the use of slang can be deliberately alienating and can often be derisive and derogatory when referring to people outside the group using it.


A well-known social variant is also slang, which is a type of language used by a particular group of people. For example, teenagers, lawyers, doctors, members of the army, etc., are social groups that handle those particular dialects that are generally understood among themselves. 

In addition, it can function as a code, since the jargon can provide a sense of identity or belong among the members of the group and, in turn, ends up excluding those who do not handle the terms.

Although it is common to use slang in everyday life, whether in the workplace or in the most secretive part, it is better to avoid this type of language in general contexts since it is possible that people outside or outside the group in question do not understand it. and end up negatively interpreting everything. It is necessary to highlight that sometimes slang can end up being naturally included in everyday language.

Examples of social variants

Below, in this section, we list several examples of dialect and social variants to better characterize the use of social variants of Spanish.

We went shopping ー We went to the store

We start the list of examples of social varieties with an everyday scenario that is shopping. This, in the city, could be said as "we went shopping to stock the cupboard"; but in the case of those who live far from the city, people might say “we went to the store for various things for the house”. 

We are friends ー We are partners

Next, another example of cultural variants is the issue of what people who have a solid friendships can be called. Some may call themselves partners, but it is a very cold term and more business-related; however, the title of friends or "friends" is much closer and gives the idea that the relationship is more solid in terms of brotherly friendship.

Let's go there ー Let's go there

In the examples of phonetic variants, we can notice that people in certain regions, regardless of the country, can “eat” some letters that affect pronunciation, perhaps because they can also speak faster; such is the case of Spanish speakers with the expression “let's go there” which basically is the reduction of the connector “para”. On the other hand, in the most formal or cultured language, they will simply say “let's go there” or “let's go there”.

These are some of the examples of social variables that are usually evidenced in the communication of society and, by way of summary, we can say that social variants or sociolects develop between groups of people who share the same social environments or backgrounds, but there are factors such as socioeconomic status, age, profession, and gender, which influence the diversity of terms, jargon, and ways of expressing themselves.