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Sociolinguistics (Language Variation) Ling 400. Sociolinguistics Goals: identify aspects of socioeconomic factors in language variation identify aspects.

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Presentation on theme: "Sociolinguistics (Language Variation) Ling 400. Sociolinguistics Goals: identify aspects of socioeconomic factors in language variation identify aspects."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sociolinguistics (Language Variation) Ling 400

2 Sociolinguistics Goals: identify aspects of socioeconomic factors in language variation identify aspects of gender and ethnicity as factors in language variation describe how shifts in speech contexts cause changes in speaking styles list the reasons why “standard” national dialects are problematic propositions

3 What is sociolinguistics? Sociolinguistics: The study of the interrelationships between language and social structure; centrally concerned with how language varies (at a single point in time) and changes (over time) according to how people in society use it.

4 Overview Language vs. dialect Language variation variation in different subareas (phonology, syntax, etc.) variation conditioned by different factors(region, socioeconomics, gender, age, etc.) Language and cultural identity, attitudes about language

5 Linguistic community Language Dialect 1Dialect 2Dialect 3 Idiolect 1 Idiolect 2 Idiolect 3, etc.

6 Dialects (linguist’s definition) Mutually intelligible varieties; e.g. English spoken in Seattle, English spoken in London, UK Not dialects of same language: W. Germanic (English) spoken in Seattle and W. Germanic (Dutch) spoken in Amsterdam

7 Sources of confusion re dialect Politically distinct ≠ linguistically distinct countries vs languages ‘Chinese’: languages spoken in same country, mislabeled ‘dialects’ Spoken in different countries, mislabeled ‘languages’: (Czech, Slovak), (Serbian, Croatian), (Norwegian, Swedish, Danish)

8 Difficulties with mutual intelligibility definition 1. There are degrees of mutual intelligibility: what is criterion: 100%? 90%? 50% Birmingham, UK vs. Seattle, WA 2. Asymmetries in intelligibility: Danish speakers find it easier to understand Swedish than vice versa.

9 Different types of dialects "Standard" dialect: usually that used by political leaders, media, higher socioeconomic classes ‘Standard’ vs. prescriptively correct Some “standard” dialects of English Standard American English (SAE) Received Pronunciation (RP) (UK)

10 ‘Standard’ vs. ‘non-standard’ varieties of American English Deletion of voiced stops after nasals standardnon-standard comb[ko ʊ m][ko ʊ m] sing[s ɪ ŋ ][s ɪ ŋ ] land[lænd][læn]

11 Language variation Factors contributing to variation Geography Socioeconomics Gender Age

12 Labov’s study (1972) Post-vocalic [ ɹ ] (e.g. floor) in NYC File 10.4 casual speech careful speech Saks 63% 64% Macy’s 44% 61% S. Klein 8% 18%

13 Case study (Japanese) There are some interesting socio-semantic facts that should be of interest to you. I will discuss some of them.

14 Sociolinguistics and Semantics Pronouns and address terms Japanese has many first and second pronouns, but when they are used (esp. 2nd person pronouns), you have to be very careful. You usually avoid them. (It is hard not to be rude.) 1st: gender neutral: watakushi, watashi male: boku, ore, oira, washi (obsolete) female: atashi, uchi (Kyoto dialect?) 2nd: an(a)ta, omae, kimi, kisama, NAME-san, NAME- kun, NAME-tyan, kisama (archaic and rude) kisama ‘honorable person’ can only be used when you are ready to fight.

15 Sociolinguistics and Semantics Pronouns and address terms 3rd: kare ‘he’, kanozyo ‘she’, ano-hito ‘that person’, ano-ko ‘that child’ ‘that girl’ kare ‘he’ and kanozyo ‘she’ were introduced only recently Name-san can be used in sentences (e.g. questions) addressed to this person. So it is indeed like a second person pronoun. E.g. Does Mr. Tanaka like sushi? This can mean ‘Mr. Tanaka, do you like sushi?’ in Japanese.

16 Kinship Terms Insider forms vs. outsider forms In-Group Forms In-Group Forms (-san can be replaced by -tyan) too-san ‘dad’, okaa-san ‘mom’, onii-san ‘elder brother’, onee-san ‘elder sister’, ozii-san ‘grandfather’, ozi-san ‘uncle’, etc. Used within the family members like pronouns. They can also be address terms. Out-Group Forms titi ‘father’, haha ‘mother’, ani ‘elder brother’, ane ‘elder sister’, otooto ‘younger brother’, imooto ‘younger sister’ Used outside the family circle. They cannot be address terms.

17 Male vs. Female Language Males and females speak in different ways in Japanese. This is deemphasized recently, but the difference still exists. 1st person pronouns: ore, boku (male) atashi (female), Sentence- ending particles: -ze (male) –wa (female) -naa (neutral) Kirei-na kesiki-da ze. ‘It is a nice view.’ pretty scenery-be ending (male) Kirei-na kesiki-da wa. ‘It is a nice view.’ pretty scenery-be ending (female) This rule is being broken nowadays. Yabai, yabai!. (young female college students) Be-in-trouble ‘It’s great.’ (can suggest ‘It’s a nice view.’) (yabai used to be a word reserved for males and indicate a negative situation.)

18 Names vs. pronouns Names are used more often in Japanese sentences than in English sentences. You can even use names in place of 2nd person pronouns. (In fact, using names is usually more appropriate/polite.) This is not possible in English. Mary is talking to John. Mary: John-san wa nani-o bennkyo-si te imasu ka? John-HON TOP what-ACC study-PROG-PRES-Q ‘What are you studying?’ Literally: ‘What is John studying?’

19 Kinship Terms used for Strangers Kinship terms are used as address terms/pronouns when dealing with strangers (getting obsolete and can be rude, but still used by older people) 15~30ish male: onii-san ‘elder brother’ female: onee-san ‘elder sister’ 30~60ish male: ozi-san ‘uncle’, female oba-san ‘aunt’ 40~70ish male: otoo-san ‘father’, female okaa-san ‘mother’ 65~ male: ozii-san ‘grandfather’, female obaa-san ‘grandmother’

20 Honorifics and Humble Forms Japanese distinguishes between honorific forms of verbs and humble forms of verbs in some cases. Honorifics (raise the status of the subject) Humble Forms (lower the status of the subject) mesiagat-ta syokuzi-o mesiagat-ta. ‘(honorable person) ate.’ meal-ACC eat (honorific)-PAST itadai-ta Syokuzi-o itadai-ta. ‘(humble person) ate.’ meal-ACC eat (humble)-PAST tabe-ta Syokuzi-o tabe-ta. ‘(no honorific) ate.’

21 Honorifics and Humble Forms These different verbs with the same meaning give the listener some clue as to who the subject is. In this sense, honorifics are somewhat like agreement in European languages. Itadaku ‘eat’ ‘receive’ (humble) can be used as an auxiliary verb too. syatyoo-ni tegami-o kaite itadai-ta. president-DAT letter-ACC write receive-PAST ‘(I) had the P. write a letter for me.’ Itadai-ta ‘received the favor of …’


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