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Language, place and class

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Presentation on theme: "Language, place and class"— Presentation transcript:

1 Language, place and class
Regional and social variation

2 A story A man migrated from Wales to southern England in the 1920s. He took his 5 year old daughter to the village school and introduced her to the headmaster saying “I’ve brought you a new scholar” . The headmaster replied “She’ll be the first one we’ve ever had here”. The man was not a coward – he had a dangerous job and had fought in France and Palestine in WW I. --

3 continued but he was very afraid since he was obviously in the presence of a raving lunatic He could clearly see a hundred scholars running around the playground. Was the headmaster really insane?

4 continued No. There was a difference in dialect. In Wales a scholar was someone who went to school. In England it referred to a knowledgeable person.

5 Study of social and regional differences
19th and early 20th studies based on studies of old men Geographical rather than social Drew isoglosses on maps

6 continued isoglosses separated dialects Based on family tree model
Assumed real dialects spoken by older males

7 Continued See handout for English dialects Often highly accurate
Info collected – men born but can still identify place of origin of someone who left 40 years ago

8 Malaysia Can similar maps be constructed for Malaysia?

9 Dialect continuum Gradual changes from one place to another in England
Western Romance Southern Slavic West Malaysia

10 Problems with Dialect Studies
Ignored social change – assumed no social variation in dialect areas ignored variation by gender – not interested in women or assumed followed men

11 continued ignored variation by age
Ignored urban areas – “not real dialects” Non-random sampling

12 Language and class Class
Differences in status, prestige, respect, power Found in all societies, even “classless” ones Until 500years ago based mainly on violence

13 continued In western societies – mainly & increasingly income, wealth, occupation and education International stratification – economic increasingly an educational, digital and linguistic gap

14 Social Variation Languages vary by class – often formalised
Words for royalty and others in Thai, Javanese, Malay, English – criminal offence in Thailandfor foreigners to use words for parts of the King’s body

15 continued Pronouns European tu/vous, du/sie systems
Phonology – most persistent kind of social variation

16 Social structure of English
Social dialect -- dialect of a social group Accent – variations in phonology English – many regional dialects Standard English is a written and spoken dialect Most writing is in SE

17 continued Slight national variations
Spoken by minority of native speakers – understood by most Target language for NNSs – model in phonetics textbooks RP (BBC) is an accent

18 Status of RP/BBC High prestige
Hostility – US films spoken by vampires, aliens and Shere Khan Status may be declining – prestige speakers – Sean Connery (Scottish), Hugh Grant (RP), Trevor Phillips (Caribbean)

19 Recent Changes in RP Linking /r/ klO:T -- klQT
Final glottalisation – noted in Diana, but not Charles or Blair Some features of Cockney

20 continued Emergence of Estuary English
Intermediate between Cockney and RP Spreading geographically and up and down social structure

21 Social Aspects of American English
No equivalent to RP – closest is Network English (mid-western?) US presidents retain regional accents – Bush (Texas) Kennedy (Boston), Clinton (deep South) Social variations within regions African Americans distinct

22 Labov’s Study Language varies by class as well as place
Labov studied NYC department stores Asking same questions in 3 stores of different status

23 continued Found post-vocalic /r/has high status in NYC
Use increases in middle and upper middle classes Not in Boston reverse Not in England – found in regional dialects

24 continued Within English – a sign of low status
In Reading used more by working class In Malaysia? – a sign of high status --- teacher induced

25 Other Findings Studies in UK found variation by class
E.g. Reading and Norwich – post vocalic /r/, /h/ deletion, /n/ rather than /ng/

26 continued Differences between men and women
Any high status form used more frequently by women Overt and covert prestige

27 continued African-Americans distinctive
Do not participate in the Northern Cities vowel shift British Asians – regional varieties Afro-Caribbeans – revival of patois

28 Stylistic Variation Fixed – e.g. /n/ vs /ng/, post-vocalic /r/
Graded – e.g. types of glottalisation Part of a stylistic repertoire ranging from formal to casual

29 Gender, Class and Language
Explanation of class and gender patterns Women’s status dependent on male partner Women can choose partners freely Status marked by linguistic features Women’s status can improve by adopting certain features Does this apply everywhere?

30 Conclusion Language is closely linked to social class
Traditional patterns may be replaced by phonological variation within a language or dialect What is happening in SE Asia?

31 Question Are there social dialects in Asian languages?

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