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No use of language is ever neutral, but always contains elements of some ideological viewpoint. Concepts such as good, bad, normal, ethical, are all culturally.

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Presentation on theme: "No use of language is ever neutral, but always contains elements of some ideological viewpoint. Concepts such as good, bad, normal, ethical, are all culturally."— Presentation transcript:

1 No use of language is ever neutral, but always contains elements of some ideological viewpoint. Concepts such as good, bad, normal, ethical, are all culturally relative – ie) each society / social group decides what constitutes ‘good’ or desirable behaviour. Language encodes and enforces the values of society making them seem natural and unquestionable. hers_Episode_2/ Task: think of an example to support or challenge this statement

2 People feel entitled to the car, the girl etc. [The Independent, 31 August 1997] Several of Hollywood’s most powerful players have arrangements with what in pre­palimony terms were ‘common ‑ law wives’. [The Guardian, 13 September 1997] The Vikings were addicted to drink, gluttony and women. [The Jarvik Viking History Centre, York] A South African went wild with a machete due to racial abuse and killed his next ‑ door neighbour’s wife. [The Guardian, September 1 985] Christopher Columbus discovered America. What ideological assumptions are encoded in each of these statements. From whose viewpoint are we encouraged to see the world?

3 Well ‑ spoken employees wanted: Brummies, Tykes need not apply 1. Pick out the words and phrases from this article which indicate people’s judgements about different accents. 2.Can you think of any ways in which people pick up their attitudes towards different accents and varieties of language. 3.What attitudes do you think people hold towards different accents. Do different accents convey different levels of power or status?

4 It’s no good just walking in and saying ‘Gissa job’ in thick Scouse, Brummie, Glaswegian, or Tyke. If you want employment, use a ‘proper’ accent or you won’t get past the first interview. Don’t be too posh, though ‑ Oxford accents are off ‑ putting and sounding like the Queen will only irritate your prospective employer, especially if you are a man. The accent that will launch you on a glittering career is a finely modulated form of received pronunciation, or RP. This will give the impression that you are confident, intelligent and ambitious even if you are really neurotic, thick and the type who would do anything for a quiet life. The ideal voice for getting that job is similar to a BBC announcer’s voice, because ‘it’s pleasant to listen to’, according to research by David Davey, a chartered psychologist specialising get in executive assessment. The comparison did not please the BBC whose spokesman said: ‘The BBC accent doesn’t exist any more. We have an equal opportunities policy and any accent is acceptable provided that it is clearly understood.’ Standard accents are important in jobs that involve contact with customers with a wide range of accents, Mr Davey writes in the Institute of Personnel Management’s journal, Personnel Plus. ‘But for a research position, intelligence, education and experience would heavily outweigh even the worst Cockney or Scouse accent.’ There is consolation for those burdened with a strong accent: they are seen as friendlier, more generous, more honest and as having a better sense of humour than the RP brigade. Although an unintelligible Glaswegian accent is unlikely to help you become the head of a policy merchant bank, Mr Davey says that most educated Scottish accents rate highly, although below RP, of course. ‘Educated’ Welsh and Irish accents also score quite highly as do the mellower examples of English provincial brogues, such as those from Yorkshire and Tyneside. American, Australian, South African, Indian and West Indian accents might benefit from a certain classless’ factor, but all fail to challenge the supremacy of standard pronunciation.

5 HHow can accents affect the power dynamics in conversation?

6 Research into Accent / Dialect As a pair, read your research findings and suggest a theory to explain it. (5mins) Explain your findings and theory to the other pair in your group and discuss possible interpretations.

7 Labov’s Martha’s Vineyard Labov carried out research into the way pronunciation was changing on Martha’s vineyard, an island off the east coast of the USA where over 40,000 summer visitors spend their holidays. Younger (31 ‑ 45 years) residents, and particularly young males, were increasingly using non-standard pronunciation. They were pronouncing /aw/ and /ay/ (as in mouse and mice) more like the island’s fishermen, a close ‑ knit social group regarded as independent, skilful, strong and courageous, and less like the tourists from the mainland.

8 Labov’s theory was that young people were unconsciously using language to associate themselves with the fishermen, whom they admired, and therefore to dissociate themselves from the tourists, whom they despised.

9 Milroy’s Belfast Study Milroy studied three working ‑ class communities in Belfast. She found that where people belonged to tightly knit networks of friends or family, they tended to use more of the commonly used non-standard language forms than people who didn’t. A closed network is where everyone knows each other, an open network is where not everyone in the social group knows everyone else – the men belonged to closed networks, the women to open networks. The men, who in most cases worked and socialised together (while the women worked at home) used more non-standard forms. However, in two communities (Hammer and Clonard), the pattern of men using non-standard and women using standard forms was reversed and more women used vernacular forms. Hammer and the Clonard both had unemployment rates of around 35 per cent this meant men from these areas were forced to look for work outside the community, and also shared more in domestic tasks. The women in these areas went out to work and, in the case of the young Clonard women, all worked together. This meant that the young Clonard women were a tightly knit group who worked and amused themselves together.

10 Milroy’s theory was that tightly knit networks “function as norm ‑ enforcement mechanisms”. This principle applied whether the speakers were male or female.

11 Jenny Cheshire’s Reading Study Jenny Cheshire studied links between non ‑ standard grammatical usages, like “ain’t”, non ‑ standard ‑ s (“They calls me...”), multiple negation (“It ain’t got no pedigree...”), and peer group behaviour among young teenagers in Reading. She found that youngsters who had positive attitudes towards carrying weapons, fighting and swearing tended to use more of the non ‑ standard forms. She found that boys’ friendship groups were more hierarchical than those of the girls with more obvious leaders. She found that boys tended to use these more than girls.

12 Cheshire’s theory was that peer groups enforced norms of behaviour and of language. Boys’ groups were able to enforce the norms more efficiently because they were more hierarchical than those of girls.

13 Labov’s New York Study Sales assistants in three New York stores, drawn from the top (Saks), middle (Macy’s) and bottom (Klein’s) of the price/fashion scale were led into saying “fourth floor” to see if they pronounced non ‑ prevocalic (r), a prestige form in New York. Ie to see if they pronounced it the posh way or not. A pretence not to hear obtained a repeated version in a more careful style. Saks assistants used the post ‘r’ pronunciation (posh form) most, Klein’s used it least and Macy’s had the greatest upward shift when asked to repeat.

14 Labov’s theory was that the upward shift of Macy’s sales assistants suggested that when lower middle ‑ class speakers become more aware of how they are speaking, they converge (change their speech to sound more like the person their speaking to) strongly towards forms used by upper middle ‑ class speakers.

15 Give One / Get One 1.In your table, write a summary of the theories you have looked at. 2.Go round the room and ask other students to explain the theories they have looked at. In return share your knowledge with them.

16 Using Language to Impress – Gain Status in a Group Overt prestige = gaining status by conforming to social rules (impressing by being posh or clever) Covert prestige = gaining status by breaking social rules (impressing by being rebellious or non-conformist – using slang and swearing)

17 Find Five: Key Ideas So Far Every use of language is a use of power – every discourse is a negotiation of power (Fairclough) Terms of reference can show or enforce power relations (boy / Dr) Types of power: influential, instrumental, personal, social, knowledge, in-group. Denotations / connotations – the words we choose to describe things have the power to change the way they are perceived. (freedom fighter / terrorist) Language reflects ideology. For instance the insults that are prevalent within a society reveal its values.

18 Each member of your group should pick one of these ideas (choose the one with which you feel least comfortable, your friends will help you) Draw a cartoon which illustrates this principle in action “I don’t want to tidy my room.” “Nobody likes tidying up, but we all have to do it.” “But why do I have to?” “Because I said so.” Every discourse is a negotiation of power.

19 How do your social groups affect the way you speak? 1.How do you use language to identify yourself with a social group? 2.In what situations would you emphasise / downplay your accent? 3.When might you consciously use standard forms to impress people? 4.When might you consciously use taboo language / non-standard forms to impress people / show you are part of their group? Homework: write detailed answers to these questions, giving examples.


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