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Regional and Social Dialects

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1 Regional and Social Dialects
Sociolinguistics Chapter 6 Regional and Social Dialects

2 Regional variation International varieties Pronunciation Example 2
Vocabulary Australia – sole parent Britain – single parent New Zealand – solo parent Grammar Example 3 2

3 Regional variation Intranational or intra-continental variation
Britain Example 4 United States Northern, Midland, Southern Australia and New Zealand Less variation in English than in Maori 3

4 Regional variation Isoglosses
The boundary lines that mark regional variation Dialect chains Example 5 4

5 Language vs. Dialect What is a language? What is a dialect?

6 Activity 6.1 Look at the use of the word ‘language’ in the four sentences. Try to work out the sense of the word in each sentence.

7 What is a language? 1 Chinese is his native language.
2 When the teacher spoke to the class, the language she used was very informal. 3 If you want to know the rules of the language, you should get a good grammar book. 4 In England the language they speak is called English; in China the language they speak is called Chinese.

8 What is a language? 1. The word ‘language’ is used in different ways by different people, e.g., writers, journalists, educationalists, teachers and linguists. 2. The meaning of the term ‘language’ is often very vague. 3. The meanings of ‘language’ often overlap.

9 Dialect A regionally or socially distinctive variety of a language, identified by a particular set of words and grammatical structures. […] Any language with a reasonably large number of speakers will develop dialects. (Crystal, 1980)

10 More on dialect “The term ‘dialect’ has generally been used to refer to a subordinate variety of a language. For example, we are accustomed to saying that the English language has many dialects.” (Romaine, 1994)

11 West Germanic Dialect Continuum
Dutch German dialects Dutch dialects Netherlands Germany

12 What makes a language? Linguistic factors? Mutual intelligibility?
Pronunciation Vocabulary Grammatical system Mutual intelligibility?

13 What makes a language? ‘A language is a dialect with an army and navy.’ (Weinreich) Language has a political dimension Language is political, not a linguistic categorisation

14 What makes a language? The Dutch dialects are heteronomous with respect to standard Dutch, and the German dialects to standard German. (Chambers and Trudgill, 1980: 10-11)


16 Influence of political factors on languages
Yugoslavia Under communism, Serbian and Croatian  Serbo-Croatian After civil war, Serbo-Croatian  Serbian and Croatian

17 Languages in Hong Kong Official Languages Chinese Putonghua Cantonese

18 Languages in Hong Kong Modern Standard Chinese
Written Modern Standard Chinese Putonghua Cantonese Written Cantonese Spoken Cantonese

19 Activity 6.2 Do languages develop from dialects or do dialects develop from languages? Answer this question from the perspective of Crystal, then Weinreich.

20 Variety/Code Sociolinguists use the term variety (or sometimes code) to refer to any set of linguistic forms which patterns according to social factors.

21 Social dialects Social dialects are varieties which reflect people’s social backgrounds: social prestige, wealth, education, occupation, income level, residential area.

22 Received Pronunciation (RP)
A prestigious social accent used by less than 5% of the population in Britain Figure 6.2 Figure 6.3

23 Social dialects Vocabulary U vs. Non-U in 1950s England Pronunciation
[h]-dropping Example 12 Figure 6.4 [in] Table 6.2 Grammatical patterns

24 Department Store Study
Sociolinguistic study by William Labov in 1960’s The phrase fourth floor was elicited from sales people at three department stores

25 Rise and fall of r New York City was r-pronouncing in 18th century
r-less in 19th century until World War II r-pronouncing again after World War II The prestigious New York dialect (and Standard American English) is now rhotic

26 The Battleground High prestige: Sak’s Fifth Avenue
Middle prestige: Macy’s Low prestige: S. Klein

27 Percentage of r-use

28 R-results Social variation Sak’s > Macy’s > S. Klein
floorwalkers > salesclerks > stockboys Gender women > men Age younger > older Level of formality more “r”s in careful pronunciation

29 Arbitrariness There is nothing inherently bad or good about the pronunciation of any sound. The different status of [r]-pronunciation in different cities illustrates this point. Figure 6.5

30 Social dialects Grammatical patterns
Vernacular present tense verb forms Figure 6.6 Figure 6.7

31 References Chambers, J.K. and P. Trudgill. (1980). Dialectology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Crystal, D. (1980). A first dictionary of linguistics and phonetics. London: André Deutsch. Labov, W. (1972b), Sociolinguistic patterns, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Romaine, S. (1994). Language in society: An introduction to sociolinguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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