Presentation on theme: "Chapter 8 Language and Society 8.1 The Scope of Sciolinguistics 8.1.1 The relatedness between language and Society."— Presentation transcript:
Chapter 8 Language and Society
8.1 The Scope of Sciolinguistics The relatedness between language and Society
1) While language is principally used to communicate meaning, it is also used to establish and maintain social relationships.
2) Users of the same language in a sense all speak differently. The kind of language each of them chooses to use is in part determined by his social background. Language, in its turn, reveals information about its speaker.
3)To some extent, language, especially the structure of its lexicon, reflects the physical environments of a society.
Whereas English, for example, has only one word for snow ( or two if we include sleet), Eskimo has several. The reasons for this are obvious. It is essential for Eskimos to be able to distinguish efficientlybetween different types of snow.
English, of course, is quite able to make the same distinctions: fine snow, dry snow, soft snow, and so on, but in Eskimos this sort of distinction is lexicalized---made by means of individual words.
4. To some extent, language, especially the structure of its lexicon reflects social environments of a society.
For example, a society's kinship system is generally reflected in its kinship vocabulary.
We can assume, for example, that the important kin relationships in English- speaking societies are those that are signaled by single vocabulary items.
As society is reflected in language in this way, social change can produce a corresponding linguistic change.
This has happened in the case of Russian. During the period from 1860 to the present day the structure of the Russian kinship system has undergone a very radical change as a result of several important events:
For example:the emancipation of serfs in 1861, the First World War, the revolution, the collectivization of agriculture and the Second world War. There has been a marked social as well as political revolution, and this has been accompanied by a corresponding change in the language.
In the middle of the last century, wife's brother was shurin, whereas now now it is simply brat zheny, brother of wife. Similarly, brother's wife, formerly nevestka, is now zhena brata, wife of brother. In other words, distinctions that were formerly lexicalized, because they were important, are now made by means of phrases. The loss of importance of these particular relationships are due to the fact that social changes in Russia have led to the rise of the small, nuclear family.
In the last century most Russians lived in large patrilocal extended-family households. brother's wives, at that time part of the family now normally live, in different households. Similarly, the term yatrov, signifying husband's brother's wife has now disappeared entirely.
As a social phenomenon, the evaluation of a linguistic form is entirely social.
8.1.2 Speech community
A speech community is defined as a group of people who form a community and share the same language or a particular variety of language.
The important characteristic of a speech community: A. They speak the same language or dialect.
B. the members of the group must interact linguistically with other members of the community.
C. They may share similar attitudes toward linguistic norms.
Speech variety Speech variety, also known as language variety, refers to any distinguishable form of speech used by a speaker or group of speakers.
The distinctive characteristics of a speech variety are mainly reflected in its pronunciation, syntax and vocabulary.
Speech variety is a neutral term, which is often used to replace the such terms as standard language, dialect, pidgin and creole.
It can also be used to refer to regional dialects and ethnic dialects such as Australian English and Black English as well as the functional dialects such as legal language.
8.2 Varieties of language People who claim to be users of the same language do not speak the language in the same manner. For example all the English–speaking people do not speak the same type of English. And the language used by the same individual varies as circumstances vary.
8.2.1Dialectal varieties Regional dialect Regional dialects are linguistic varieties used by people living in different regions.
North: You need your hair cutting. South: You need your hair cut
English: Scottish: It needs washing It needs washed
He's a man who likes his beer. He's a man that likes his beer. He's a man at likes his beer. He's a man as likes his beer. He's a man what likes his beer. He's a man he likes his beer. He's a man likes his beer.
Regional dialect boundaries often coincide with geographical barriers such as mountains, rivers, or swamps. This differentiation is accounted for by the lack of communication in the old days when travel was difficult.
Sociolect Just as regional dialect is associated with separation caused by physical conditions, social dialect has to do with separation brought about by different social conditions.
Social-class dialect, or sociolect, refers to the linguistic variety characteristic of a particular social class.
Two people who speak the same regional dialect may possess some linguistic features which arise because of social factors instead of regional factors.
In other words, people who have different social and economic backgrounds, academic experiences, occupations, ages and sexes speak differently. Although living in the same region, people may consciously or unconsciously select linguistic features for communication that are appropriate to their social identities.
When we look at the language used by two speakers A and B, we can estimate roughly their relative social status: Speaker A speaker B I did it yesterday. I done it yesterday. He hasn’t got it. He ain’t got it. It was she that said it It was her what said it.
In Britain, one of the most important markers of status is accent. “Received Pronunciation”, a non-localized form of pronunciation, refers to the particular way of pronouncing standard English, which is an indicator of a public school education and thus a high social status on the part of the speaker.
In the past the possession of an RP accent was extremely important because it served a s a high-status marker, and also as a qualification for high-prestige employment no matter what other abilities the work might require.
Investigations have been carried out by linguists to obtain evidence for the correlation between certain phonetic features and social variables. Percentage of speakers Using [n] for [ ŋ ] Middle middle class 3% Lower middle class 42% Upper working class 87% ]Middle working class 95% Lower working class 100% ŋ
It should be clear that social-class dialects are not distinct entities; they merge into each other to form a continuum. It is only the proportions which are different.
language and sex
Differences between women and men have always been a topic of interest to the human species and supposed linguistic differences are often enshrined in proverbs:
The North Sea will sooner be found wanting in water than a woman at a loss for a word. ( Jutland ) A woman's tongue wags like a lamb's tail. (England) Foxes are all tail and women are all tongue. ( England-Cheshire)
Women in many countries are more status-conscious than men, and therefore more aware of the social significance of linguistic variables.
In normal situations, female speakers tend to use more prestigious forms than their male counterparts with the same general social background.
Peter Trudgill studied the double negation structures. He found that the use of “ I didn ’ t do nothing ” to mean “ I did nothing ” is more common in a male ’ s speech than in a female ’ s speech ， given that their social background is the same.
In addition, a woman tends to use polite forms, therefore a woman ’ s use of language is more indirect, while men's use of language is more straightforward and less polite.
Besides, the gender differences are also reflected in the use of the same lexical items. For example, women tend to use such words as: “ lovely ”, “ sweet ”, “ divine ”, “ nice ”, “ darling ”, “ cute ”, “ adorable ”, “ charming ” which have almost become the markers of a female.
a. Oh dear, you've put the peanut butter in the refrigerator again. b. Shit, you've put the peanut butter in the refrigerator again.
Imagine a man and a woman both looking at the same wall, painted a pinkish shade of purple. The woman may say: Women prefer to use the following colour words while most men do not: mauve, beige, aquamarine, lavender, magenta The wall is mauve.
If the man should say the above sentence, one might well conclude he was imitating a woman sarcastically, or was a homosexual, or an interior decorator. The wall is mauve.
females: so good, such fun, exquisite, lovely, divine, precious, adorable, darling, fantastic. neutral: great, terrific, cool, neat Women have their own vocabulary for emphasizing certain effects:
Compared with men, women tend to use such adverbs. ： horridly, abominably, immensely, excessively, amazingly ， so, most,etc.
In Chapter III in Jane Austen’s novel,“Pride and Prejudice”,Mrs Bennet, excited after participating in a party, talked to her husband about Mr.Bingley as follows:
Oh! My dear Mr. Bennet, we have had a most excellent ball. …Jane was so admired. Every body said how well she looked. Mr. Bingley thought her quite beautiful, …I was so vexed to see him stand up with her. … I am quite delighted with him. He is so excessively handsome! …[Mr. Darcy] is a most disagreeable, horrid man. So high and so conceited that there was no enduring him! He walked here, and he walked there, fancying himself so very great! Not handsome enough to dance with.
Language and age Certain linguistic features occur more frequently in the speech of one generation than that of the other.
The most striking difference is found at the lexical level. Lexical variation is more noticeable across three-generation time span than two-generation time span.
An elderly man who still talks about the “icebox” or the “wireless” may be confused by the speech of his teenage granddaughter who like to “pig out” whatever she sees in the “fridge” while listening to her “boombox”.