Lyudmila A. Pashina

Novokuznetsk Institute (branch) of the Kemerovo State University, Russian Federation


The purpose of this article is to update the sociolinguistic view of the phenomena of old age and aging. The paper reviews existing research in the field of sociolinguistics of aging or gerontolinguistics – a new field of science that borders on linguistics, sociolinguistics, sociology, psycholinguistics, psychology, and cognitive sciences. The article analyzes the reasons for the relevance of gerontolinguistic issues in modern times, provides arguments that justify the importance of studying the communicative characteristics of older people using the methodological apparatus of sociolinguistics of aging. The author describes in detail the history of the formation and main directions of development of gerontolinguistics; examines in detail the study of the speech register traditionally used in communication with the elderly and known as elderspeak, infantilizing talk, patronizing talk, problematic intergenerational communication, secondary baby talk; the causes and consequences of its use; analyzes discursive strategies endemic to intergenerational communication involving older people (PSD (“painfull self-disclosure”), reformulation of life stories, “underaccomodation negativity of older people”, “off-target verbosity”); analyzes the main explanatory theories describing intergenerational communication (“communication predicament model of ageing”, theory of speech accommodation, model of “multiple influences on language performance in later life”, intergenerational communication schemas; examines theories describing age-related stereotypes reflected in language (the model “model of the role of age-related stereotypes in the production of patronizing speech” and the theory of “the effect of matching stereotypes”), and also provides a brief overview of research that explicates the gerontolinguistic study of ageism and gender differentiation. Methods of theoretical and comparative analysis, systematization and generalization of materials were used. The originality of the research consists of a comprehensive review of scientific publications in the field of gerontologists from the point of view of the history of this field of knowledge, review the main themes and theories, as well as the selection and descriptions of current trends of development of this area of research. The study confirms the idea that a sociolinguistic view of the problem of aging provides an opportunity to gain knowledge that can make intergenerational communication more effective, and the quality of life in later life is higher.

Keywords: sociolinguistics of aging, gerontolinguistics, language of older people, elderspeak, infantilizing talk, patronizing talk, problematic intergenerational communication, secondary baby talk, care communication, healthcare communication, discursive constructions of aging, communicative constructions of aging, discursive studies of aging, older people, old age, aging

For citation: Pashina L.A. The formation of the field of sociolinguistic  research of the problem of aging: a review of foreign studies // Sociolinguistics. 2021. No. 2(6) [online]. Pp. 36–60. DOI: 10.37892/2713-2951-2021-2-6-36-60