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1 Languages, Dialects, and Varieties Class notes SociolinguisticsLanguages, Dialects, and VarietiesClass notes
2 Today… Language variation Deciding what is a language and what is a dialectTalking about what makes a dialectTalking about regional dialectsTalking about linguistic variablesAccentsLast week we discussed what language, society and culture meant. We also looked at what is meant my sociolinguistics.In todays lesson we are going to be looking at the following:Language variationDeciding what is a language and what is a dialectTalking about what makes a dialectTalking about regional dialectsTalking about linguistic variablesAccents
3 Sociolinguistic variation What is sociolinguistic variation?The study of the way language varies and changes:Social factors (such as a speaker's gender, ethnicity, age, degree of integration into their community, etc)andLinguistic structures (such as sounds, grammatical forms, intonation features, words, etc).Sociolinguistic variation is the study of the way language varies and changes in communities of speakers and concentrates in particular on the interaction of:Social factors (such as a speaker's gender, ethnicity, age, degree of integration into their community, etc)andLinguistic structures (such as sounds, grammatical forms, intonation features, words, etc).Let’s discuss linguistic variation in more detail.
4 linguistic variation“What do we mean by variety?” Variety is when people who speak the same language speak it differently. Hudson (1996, p. 22) defines a variety of language as ‘a set of linguistic items with similar distribution,’ a definition that allows us to say that all of the following are varieties: Canadian English, London English, the English of football commentaries, and so on.In chapter 2 of introduction to sociolinguistics it states “what do we mean by variety? Hudson (1996, p. 22) defines a variety of language as ‘a set of linguistic items with similar distribution,’ a definition that allows us to say that all of the following are varieties:Canadian English, London English, the English of football commentaries, and so on.
5 No two speakers of a language speak exactly the same way - Between group variation = intergroup variation No individual speaker speaks the same way all the time - Within-speaker variation = intraspeaker variationWe must remember that:No two speakers of a language speak exactly the same way- Between group variation = intergroup variationNo individual speaker speaks the same way all the time- Within-speaker variation = intraspeaker variation
6 Language and DialectWhat is a dialect? A dialect should be: A way of speaking a language that is used only in a particular area or by a particular group and characterized by systemic features, such as phonology, lexicon, or grammar, that distinguishes it from other varieties of the same language.Lets first talk about the difference between language and dialect.
7 A version of a language spoken in a particular geographical area or by a particular group of people. The English spoken in Newcastle is different from that spoken by natives of North Cornwall. Not only do speakers in these two areas have a different accent, they also use a number of different words. Different dialects also use slightly different grammar, too. For example, in Devon some people say ‘They do have …’ in preference to ‘They have …’ Such regional expressions are not ‘wrong’, they simply differ from standard English. They are sometimes described as ‘non-standard’. Oxford DictionaryJust to make sure we are all on the same page:A version of a language spoken in a particular geographical area or by a particular group of people. The English spoken in Newcastle is different from that spoken by natives of North Cornwall. Not only do speakers in these two areas have a different accent, they also use a number of different words. Different dialects also use slightly different grammar, too. For example, in Devon some people say ‘They do have …’ in preference to ‘They have …’ Such regional expressions are not ‘wrong’, they simply differ from standard English. They are sometime described as ‘non-standard’.
8 Cockney Rhyming SlangWhat is cockney rhyming slang? Where is it spoken? Cockney Rhyming slang is a coded language invented in the nineteenth century by Cockneys so they could speak in front of the police without being understood. It uses a phrase that rhymes with a word, instead of the word itself – thus ‘stairs’ becomes ‘apples and pears’, ‘phone’ becomes ‘dog and bone' and ‘word’ becomes ‘dicky bird’. It can become confusing when sometimes the rhyming part of the word is dropped: thus ‘daisies’ are ‘boots’ (from ‘daisy roots’).Lets have a look at an example. Who has heard of cockney rhyming slang?
9 Cockney Game Would you Adam and Eve it? Adam and Eve Believe I'm going to have my barnet cut.Barnet FairHairI had a butchers at it through the window.Butcher's HookLookUse your crust, lad.Crust of BreadHeadWhere's my weasel? Weasel and Stoat Coat Hand over the bees. Bees and Honey Money Get up those apples to bed! Apples and Pears Stairs What beautiful minces. Mince Pies EyesWe are going to play a quick game and see how well you understand cockney rhyming slang. I will give you a sentence and a clue and you need to come up with the word it is talking about. For example "Up the Apples and Pears to Bedfordshire“ clue apples and pears rhymes with stairs Bedfordshire means to bed.
10 In groups lets explore more lexical variations (differences in words and phrases) around the British isles.When you click on the person a box will pop up and you can read the dialogue.Note how vocabulary changes, across the country as well as the different accents. Come up with at least 5 observations between the different areas if you can.
11 Long narrow sandwichWe are going to look at lexical variation across North American. From this first map you can see that the word for a long narrow sandwich changes depending on the state it is spoken.
12 Soft drinkWe can see that the word soft drink changes from coke to cola to pop – soda being the most popular form. And last but not least
14 Language British English Dialect:CockneyEast LondonAccentLondonDialectGeordieNewcastleCornishCornwallWest CountryNorth EasternAs we can see we have language at the top of our umbrella. Under this we have our dialects and further to this we have our accents.
15 Problems with defining language and dialect How do the different varieties of English spoken in Jamaica relate to other varieties of English in Canada? Would two English speakers from these diverse places understand one another? Set of criteria proposed by the linguist R. T Bell: Standardization: A language that has been standardized. Vitality: Whether a language is alive or dead. Historicity: A language that has a long historical bond with its speakers. Autonomy: A language must be felt by its speakers to be different from other languages. Reduction: Reduction is when the speakers of a particular variety of a language regard it as a sub-variety or a dialect. Mixture: Mixture refers to how “mixed” a language’s speakers feel their language has become. De Facto Norms: Norms refers to the feeling that many speakers have that there are both good speakers and poor speakers, and that the good speakers represent the norms of proper usage.these questions are real examples of how linguists try to understand variation and make sense of differences within a language.Perhaps some of the difficulties we have with trying to decide what constitutes a language and a dialect of a language arise from trying to subsume various different types of systems of communication under that one label.Another approach would be to admit that there are different types of language. We can differentiate these types of language following a certain set of criteria proposed by the linguist R. T Bell in his book Bell, R.T. (1976). Sociolinguistics: Goals, Approaches and Problems. London: Batsford.We can also speak of a language being more developed using these criteria, in terms of fitting into more of the criteria’s categories. A dialect would then be a sub-variety of a language fitting one of these categories.To use the criteria, you take a given variety of a language and compare it to the seven categories. The more categories the variety fits the more developed it is and the more likely it is that it probably should be considered a language.
16 ISOGLOSSESDefine isoglosses. BE = is.o.gloss AE = i.so.gloss They show the boundary of different dialectsPop question define isoglossesIsoglosses are interesting because they show the boundary of different dialects. Now, isoglosses should not intersect, but they sometimes do, meaning variations can travel across dialect borders. The importance of Isoglosses are that they show the dialect variations.
17 Black circles is an ARRRR sound Crosses is an URRHh sound
18 Do You Speak American? Dialects Lobsterman/Pronunciation in Maine :MacNeil says, “Mainers fear that their dialect is coming to the end of the road.”How might a decline in a way of life be related to a decline in a way of speaking?Does one cause the other or do they just coincide?Can there be one without the other?Clip: E1 00:00 – 05:48We are going to watch a film that examines some of the major regional dialects in the U.S., the historical reasons for their existence, and some explanations for their persistence. Dialects examined include Eastern New England, Pennsylvania, Midland, Southern, and Western.
19 Buying a car: Pam Head, the Massachusetts native, tells a story of living in Oklahoma, where people did not understand her pronunciation of the word car as “cah.”If Head had remained in Oklahoma, do you think she would have continued to use her Massachusetts pronunciation?If you have ever moved from one dialect region to another, did you notice yourself changing your pronunciation?If so, why? In order to be understood? In order to fit in? For some other reason?Have you ever noticed other people changing their pronunciation?Which is harder, adopting new and strange vocabulary items or modifying pronunciation?What are the advantages and disadvantages of trying to adopt a different regional dialect?Clip: E1 06:04 – 08:34
20 Question 1Dennis Preston: MacNeil says, “Americans are ambivalent about language. They may think that New York and Southern accents are bad English but they can also find them charming.”Do you agree that Americans are ambivalent about language?Do you share the sorts of feelings MacNeil describes?Do you consider your own variety of English to be prestigious or stigmatized?Clip: E1 20:28 – 27:36
21 Question 2Dennis Preston: Dennis Preston studies Americans’ perceptions and attitudes about English, called folk linguistics.Do you consider speakers of some varieties to sound “more educated,” “more friendly,” “more intelligent,” or “more cheerful”?If so, why do you think that is? Are your impressions similar to your classmates’?
22 Celebrating dialect diversity: Linguist Walt Wolfram says, “We’re coming to celebrate and recognize some of the dialect differences as part of our natural cultural heritage.”He believes that we ought to celebrate language variety instead of trying to eradicate it.In what ways can we celebrate language variety differences?What varieties of English do people tend to celebrate?Are there any varieties that people still typically do not celebrate?Clip: E2 01:40 – 09:03
23 Country music : Cody James, a singer from Oregon, says that country music doesn’t necessarily have to be sung with a Southern accent but that it seems right to do so.What language varieties seem right for singing the following: jazz, pop, heavy metal, hip-hop. Why?What would it be like if the voice didn’t match the style of the music—for example, what would it sound like if Cody James sang with a New York accent?Are there other activities besides singing that invite a certain accent or other features of a dialect?Clip: E2 09:03 – 12:33
24 Language prejudices : In the story about Eudora Welty that MacNeil recounts, Welty claims that when she was at Columbia University in New York, she was never given tickets to cultural events because people interpreted her way of speaking as evidence that she would not be interested in cultural activities.When you hear someone speak, what judgments do you feel confident about making?Do you think you can judge people’s interests from the way they sound?What assumptions do you think people make about you based on the way you speak?What sort of connections between speech and other attributes are most valid, and which are least valid?Clip: E2 12:33– 15:06
25 Jeff Foxworthy: Foxworthy makes a joke about not wanting your brain surgeon to have a Southern accent.What accent would you like your brain surgeon to have?What about a car mechanic or a computer repairperson?How are assumptions about regional dialects made and why are they maintained?How could misleading ones be modified?Clip: E2 15:06– 16:57