Linguistic variation as an object and objective of language teaching

DOI: 10.32749/


DIAS, Deusira Nunes Di Lauro [1]

DIAS, Deusira Nunes Di Lauro. Linguistic variation as an object and objective of language teaching. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. 04 year, Ed. 07, Vol. 05, pp. 29-36. July 2019. ISSN: 2448-0959


It is known that the teaching of Portuguese language is often restricted in using normative grammar, characterized by tracing right and wrong. This methodology ignores the process of variation given in all degrees of the language, considering geographical factors, socioeconomic levels, degrees of schooling and age. According to traditionalist teaching, the standardization of the language disconnects it from social reality, being complex and dynamic. What is intended to show here is that “verbal language is one of the means that man has to represent, organize and transmit thought specifically”1. In this sense, the student should be led to “understand and use the Portuguese language as a mother tongue, generating meaning and integrating the organization of the world and identity itself”. This article intends to expose different theoretical assumptions for language teaching based on linguistic variations from the perspective of interlocution. It proposes a new conception of production of meaning in the act of speech and, consequently, writing, defining what variations are, how they manifest themselves and the necessary approach to value the different languages in the school environment.

Keywords: Interlocution, linguistic variations, verbal language, mother tongue, identity.


The most recent studies of the language, which resulted in the discourse theory, seek to elucidate the functioning of communicative processes and the procedures for the constitution of meanings, a decisive contribution to new directions in the area of language teaching. Undoubtedly, it is the broader and complex sign system that relates to communication, capable of hosting varied languages and fulfilling its primary objective. And it is characterized as a social fact, because it is a fundamental tool of communication, because it is fundamentally an instrument of communication,

In an article in which he reflects on linguistic education in Brazil in the 1998-2008 years, linguist Carlos Bagno states:

Linguistic variation has to be the object and objective of language teaching: a linguistic education focused on the construction of citizenship in a truly democratic society cannot disregard that the ways of speaking the different social groups are fundamental elements in the cultural identity of the community and individuals, and that denigrating or condemning a linguistic variety is tantamount to denigrating and condemning the human beings who speak it[…]. (BAGNO, 2009, p.153 – 160)

As the above excerpt reports, it is necessary to characterize language as a human activity, granting it the dimension in our relationship with the world. Among all languages, it is the mother tongue – the one we speak of – that grants us identity, allowing the appointment of the world around, and being necessary for the birth of mental categories, which relate to the reality in which we are Inserted. The language is at the root of questions and questions about how the world is arranged and how we relate to it and the people with whom we live in society. As speakers, we participate in a continuous dialogue in which we act and watch the performance of our interlocutors. The different means of use and organization of the Portuguese language, according to this perspective, are a study that only has progress if the subjects of this process are able to understand that the game of meaning produced by the actors of dialogue are part of the construction of discourse, characterizing language as an activity that transforms and integrates the interlocutors, and that is by them, it is constantly modified and manipulated.


Culture is understood as a union of forms of action, thoughts and feelings of an individual or a society, being a historical and variant building in space and time. Therefore, the language is, in addition to the best form of expression of a culture, a strong element of its transformation, having its same dynamic character.

Based on this assumption, it is possible to understand the language as an open system, enabling an immense variety of its use. Beside the systematic rules that speakers must follow, the language variants appear, which may allude to the use of a group, or each announcer at the specific time of interaction with the world.

This is because language is one of the ways of manifestation of language, one among the semiotic systems built by the individual in the course of his history and community.

[…] Thus, man, in his oral practices and interaction writings, uses the linguistic system – with his phonological, morphological, syntactic, semantic and lexicon rules. It should be noted that, however, being a sense-building activity, interaction – whether it is the one that occurs by orality practices or mediated by written texts – involves symbolic actions (i.e., sign-mediated), which are not exclusively language, since there is a set of knowledge that contributes to its elaboration. In this set of knowledge, there are both those related to the language itself and those related to other semiotic systems involved in the text, which – resulting from the development of technologies, the result of also systemic changes in social groups – are constructed and appropriated by the subjects. In addition to these, knowledge should also be considered on the ways in which relationships between social subjects are established and also knowledge about the ways of designing the world, linked to the social groups in which we participate or with which Interact. (BRASIL, 2006, p.25).

This means that language learning teaching makes sense when educating if not only pragmatic knowledge about language is taken into account, but especially the knowledge arising from the life experience of this speaker inserted in a given social group that will serve as a starting point for the acquisition of new knowledge, resulting in greater appropriation of the Portuguese language, because according to the OCEMs is through the language that the individual is able to symbolize and interact, reason and condition by which this speaker will build new realities.


The language does not present itself in a unique and uniform way: it conveys variations according to the groups that use it. Each of the variants of these variants provided for in the use of the language presents certain regularities – normal resources for that group, thus calling itself dialect.

The main genera of dialects are: the age group; geographical, or regional; gender (male and female); the social (popular and cult) and; the professional. Dialects correspond to the linguistic point of view: distinct and without comparisons to each other. Each one fulfills its communicative functions optimally, according to the scope in which it is used, thus disregarding any forms of linguistic prejudice. Idioleto is the grouping of personal characteristics of the individual’s language, as a result of the active relationship between several dialects (age, regional, professional, gender and social) that constitute their speech.

However, school as an educational institution often privileges the standard standard norm treating other variations as inferior, dishonored. Understanding language as something dynamic and alive is the main point to avoid prejudice and linguistic dishonor; their studies, as Bagno (2008) states, should consider the living people who speak it. The language is an unceasing renewable source, thus waking up that all and all languages are not uniform, but variable, dynamic and multiple. Affirming that the language presents variation also means understanding it as heterogeneous fit to the social, cultural, economic, geographical aspects that constituted it.

According to Rodrigues (2002), there are two types of variation: The first occurs depending on the speaker. The second depending on the listener. The variant that occurs from the speaker function can be named as dialethal variation both as spatial variants (geographic or diatopic dialects), social class variants (social or diapathic dialects), variants of age groups (dialects gender variants (male and female dialects), generation alvariants (diachronic variants). The variant depending on the listener may be called by record, which is transposes into variants of degree of formalism, mode variants (spoken and written) and tuning variants (harmony of the sender to the receiver). It is notorious that linguistic variation is not only the case in the way of speaking of communities or social groups, because it is also presented in the behavior of each individual, finally, of each language speaker according to a particular context or situation, being also named stylistic variation. The speakers shape their forms of expression to the specific intentions of the enunciation act generated, resulting from a selection of forms that conceive linguistic knowledge, of the reality that presents itself before this individual. Bagno (2007) names such a process of stylistic variation, or stylistic monitoring, because in situations of large or little formality, the speaker is required certain control, attention and greater or lesser planning of his behavior in general and verbal.

This linguistic phenomenon occurs mainly because social groups are usually subdivided into smaller groups. Alkmim (2005. p. 41) argues that “every language is suitable for the community that uses it, it is a complete system that allows a people to express the physical and symbolic world in which they live”, that is, every speaker of a language is able to express themselves, to communicate efficiently by mastering the main mechanisms for the functioning of your language even if you do not have the knowledge of written language standards.

To Cagliari (1989, apud. ICHIKAWA, 2003), individuals perceive and learn the linguistic variation characteristic of the communities of which they are part, however, society uses this peculiarity of expressing itself to classify individuals and social classes according to their speaking – an attitude of prejudice, marking linguistic differences as rates of stigma or prestige.

Tarallo (1986) emphasizes that variation is contemplated by society as linguistic “chaos”, as a constant dispute and conflict in the name of the good use of language norms and standards. Like any other, the Portuguese language is not expressed in speech in the same way by all individuals who make use of it. In other contrast, languages obtain a trace of evolution according to time, transforming and acquiring their own characteristics due to their use in certain specific communities. However, variations do not come so only from the historical progress of languages and their geographically defined origins, so little to designate ethnic groups. Therefore, it is essential that the Portuguese language teaching method transmits and teaches its learners the process of linguistic variation, with the objective of valuing the mother tongue and encouraging criticism, aiming to train more participatory and active politically and socially.


It is necessary to highlight that relations between language and culture formulate a fundamental issue, both in the ideology of cultural deficiency and in the ideology of cultural distinctions; consequently, the performance of a fundamental role in explanations of school failure:

Based on what has been exposed so far and according to the Brazilian context, the variations here allow a recognition of the plurality of discourses, fruits of population dynamics and the interaction of various ethnic and social groups in periods of our Story. It is a tiny principle of this variant the fact that there is no correct or wrong mode of the language, much less a better regional variant than another. It is necessary, however, that in written language teaching there will be a neutralization of characteristic marks and identifiers of each social group in order to achieve a supranational standard.

So far we seek to dimension the dialectous differences of the Portuguese language spoken in Brazil and what this symbolizes in the formation of students, considering that the same ones who attend school institutions come from different regions of the country and belong to different social strata, obviously considering the social, which is also a significant factor in linguistic variations.

Nevertheless, varieties in general organize perfectly adequate language systems to express the communicative needs of speakers, according to the social and cultural habits of their social groups. To repute certain varieties as superior, and consequently and stigmatize the others is to project a value purview to the speakers of these varieties, making use of linguistic differences as a claim to practice the social discrimination of individuals or a community. The language is a social legacy, being a common system in which multiple subsystems are pierced, originating from different social, cultural and geographical situations. The language actually spoken by Brazilians suggests several variations, which come from the interaction of the language with the environment.

Thus, the texts become the main tool of the teacher in working with the language. It is necessary to offer the most varied types of contemporary texts, with different languages, different approaches, and that the space for students to elaborate, create, discuss the intentions and purposes of each one is guaranteed. The student cannot be disowned the opportunity to know the various forms of written communication, discuss its effectiveness and express himself competently in the various situations that life presents.


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[1] Master of Educational Sciences (Grendal University), postgraduate in Portuguese Language (Faculdade Vale do Cricaré), graduated in Portuguese Language and Literature (State University of Bahia – UNEB).

Submitted: June, 2019.

Approved: July, 2019.


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