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Università di Cagliari

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1 Università di Cagliari
Corso di Laurea in Economia e Gestione Aziendale Economia e Finanza CdL interclasse in Lingua e Culture per la Mediazione Linguistica Prof.ssa Luisanna Fodde a.a. 2013/2014

2 Using English The structural features of the English language include:
Vocabulary, Grammar, Phonology….. They help us to describe the way we build up sentences, the way we link words syntactically and semantically, the way vowels and consonants are pronounced to make meaningful words. During our lessons instead, we are going to talk about who uses these words and sentences, when, where and why!!!

3 Using English The structural features of the English language are finite and easy to identify. Instead, the way English is used implies an unlimited number of situations, in which the features of spoken and written language appear in an unlimited number of combinations and variations. Social, regional dialects, humour and literature, for example, may use highly distinctive features.

4 Using English Discourse: The term which describes spoken and written communications. Also, the language used in a given field of research and social practice, such as legal discourse, medical discourse, religious discourse, advertising discourse, media discourse, economic and financial discourse, academic discourse.

5 We study language as a form of behaviour.
There is no separation between language and society. Language and communication are formed by social processes Of course language is only one of a number of ways of meaning, ways to mean, which build a culture or social system. Forms of art, of dress, family and other institutional structures etc. etc., are all forms of cultural behaviour as well.

6 Culture, in itself, can be defined as a system of interrelated meanings, or networks of relationships, or as a set of interrelated semiotic systems. Thus language is one among a number of these networks, or semiotic (meaningful) systems of meaning that – together – make up human culture, or the social system. (Halliday in Halliday & Hasan, 1985/ 1989: 4).

7 This social-semiotic system of meanings is also known as a belief and value system.
We may also refer to this system as a world-view, or cultural paradigm, or ideology – which can be broadly defined as the common sense, taken-for-granted assumptions, interests, values, and biases that groups give to or have towards their world. Another way of putting all this is to say that culture is “an integrated body of the total set of meanings available to a community: its semiotic potential. The semiotic potential includes ways of doing, ways of being and ways of saying” (Hasan in Halliday & Hasan, 1985/ 1989: 99).

8 So then, in order to study the social system from a linguistic point of view, we study its ways of saying: the language of the texts it produces, in the firm conviction that a text is a fragment of the culture that produces it (Miller, 1993a).

9 A text is “language that is functional”, that is to say …….
“language that is doing some job in some context” (Halliday in Halliday & Hasan, 1985/ 1989: 10). In this functional perspective, a text is therefore always seen as being strictly related to: 1- its Context of Situation, which is defined as the immediate social and situational environment in which a text is being realized, 2- the Context of Culture which is the ‘outer’, more external, or ‘higher-order’ context surrounding both the text and its specific Context of Situation.


11 A text, therefore, is basically made of meanings that, in order to be communicated, need to be encoded and expressed through a system of graphic, phonic or visual signs. As a thing in itself, however, it is a consistent semantic unit.

12 The relation between text and context is a systematic and dynamic one:
A text is both an object, a product of its environment, of its Context of Situation and Context of Culture, and an instance of social meaning in a specific situation. The relation between text and context is a systematic and dynamic one: - on one hand, a text is the result of the context in which it is being realized and where language is being shaped to function purposefully; - on the other hand, a context is then realized in turn by the text, i.e., through a text, a context is being created. (Halliday in Halliday & Hasan, 1985/ 1989: 10-11).

13 Context of Situation Context of Situation is seen as being comprised of 3 components, or values, or dimension of variation: Field, Tenor and Mode, or, respectively: FIELD: what is going on? TENOR: who is taking part? MODE: how are the meanings being exchanged?

14 Field, Tenor and Mode. Field – the nature of the ongoing social speech event and its subject matter, what is being spoken about; Tenor – the human participants in the interaction and the relationship between them, involving their status and discourse roles, as well as the attitude they take towards the subject matter and their interlocutors, Mode – the way that language is functioning in the interaction, which involves a series of features such as the degree to which the process of interaction is shared by the interlocutors, its ‘channel’, its ‘medium’ etc. (see Halliday & Hasan, 1985/ 1989: 12)

15 Using English Two approaches: 1- The bottom-up approach, which studies the way sentences combine into larger units of discourse (analysing the lexico-grammar of a text), and concentrates on the role played by specific features of language in facilitating successful interaction (i.e. the role of you know in conversations; the use of Lei in formal Italian) 2- The top-down approach, which starts with a difined category of discourse, such as an area of knowledge (politics, economics, medicine, media) or of social situation (gender, class), or communicative genre (poetry, joke) and examines the features found in them.

16 Using English in a social context
The various branches of linguistics which investigate the topic «language in use» are: Sociolinguistics; Stylistics; Discourse Analysis; Pragmatics; Textlinguistics All share the common idea of studying language in a particular social context

17 Texts and Varietion according to use (Registers)
English can be used in a distinctive way in a very wide range of situations. These situations vary and are not always easy to define. We start by looking at the COMMUNICATIVE PRODUCTS of such situations, or at the TEXTS with which these situations are associated. Then, we will look at the LINGUISTIC FEATURES defining the identities of a text.

18 Texts and Variations according to use (Registers)

19 Texts and Registers

20 Texts and Registers SITUATION (driving) TEXT (road signs)
TEXT uses a series of distinctive linguistic features Imperative mode, figures and symbols, condensed language REGISTER (advertising register, persuasive language)

21 (advertising discourse)
REGISTERS (advertising discourse)


23 Texts and Registers Register.
It is defined by Halliday as “variation according to use” (in Halliday & Hasan, 1985/ 1989: 41). This is to say that there are typical conglomerations of linguistic resources that are made use of in a text, and that this is a result of certain types of contexts, certain Contextual Configurations, and of the purposes they serve.

24 Varieties & variety features
Variety features are not the typical features of the English language as a whole. Such features or characteristics depend on certain factors occurring in the social situation. Sociolinguistic features: they relate to very broad situational constraints, and identify the regional (dialect, diatopic) and social varieties (sociolect) of any language (e.g. American, Sardinian, Southern, Cockney, middle-class, educated, beurocratic….). Some of these permanent features are so ingrained in ourselves that we are not conscious about them. (Cfr. Idiolects)

25 Varieties & variety features
Stylistic features: they refer to personal preferences in language usage (humour, poetry), or are typical of the registers associated with occupational groups (lecturers, lawyers, journalists). They are temporal constraints of our spoken or written language, over which we have some degree of conscious control. During the day we may change our speaking or writing styles according to the situations: SMS’s, exams, telling a story, formal application or letter… CONSTRAINT: a restriction on the operation of a linguistic rule or the occurrence of a linguistic construction

26 The two dimensions of a language variety 1- MEDIUM OF COMMUNICATION
Texts and Varieties The two dimensions of a language variety 1- MEDIUM OF COMMUNICATION Speech and writing – spoken English and written English Obvious difference: voice (phonic substance) vs hands/instrument (graphic substance). They are independent methods of communication But what are the main differences???

27 Texts and Varieties The two dimensions of a language variety
2- The type of participation (the communication participants) Number of participants involved: monologue or dialogue? Monologue (reading & writing); Dialogue (listening & speaking) ???? A monologue is an activity in which the producer does not expect a response, even if an audience may be present. In a dialogue the participants expect each other to respond Exceptions: spoken monologues (political & public speeches); written dialogues (questionnaires, registration forms, classically dialogic in form); transcribed spoken dialogues…..

28 Written/Spoken Language
Face-to-face communication Writer-reader communication Speech production/Written production Language control in speech and writing: Pronunciation, intonation, accent, non-verbal communication (SPEECH) Style, grammar, structure, orthography (WRITING)

29 Written/Spoken Language
What has happened to such differences with the advent of digital communication??

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