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'Our pupils do NOT speak Doric, they speak Aberdonian! First impressions of a sociophonetic study of adolescents in Aberdeen Thorsten Brato Department.

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Presentation on theme: "'Our pupils do NOT speak Doric, they speak Aberdonian! First impressions of a sociophonetic study of adolescents in Aberdeen Thorsten Brato Department."— Presentation transcript:

1 'Our pupils do NOT speak Doric, they speak Aberdonian! First impressions of a sociophonetic study of adolescents in Aberdeen Thorsten Brato Department of English Gie І en Graduate School for the Humanities Justus-Liebig-Universität Gie І en Monday 2nd October Taylor A31, pm All welcome details of other upcoming CLR seminars at

2 AT4013- Language in Culture and Society Class reps? Course guide, readings Lecture-tutorials Assignments My work on language and culture, ethnopoetics, descriptive grammar

3 What is Language? Something we do all the time without reflection. Teaching our language to someone who doesnt know it is hard Competence = this hidden knowledge Performance = what we can see people doing

4 What is Language? A dialect with an army. Africa 2,092 Americas1,002 Asia 2,269 Europe 239 Pacific 1,310 TOTAL 6,912

5 What is the origin of Language? Best guess seems that language developed in parallel with the species. We dont know and we can never know. Bad question. Origins dont necessarily explain whats going on

6 Some definitions of Language Sapir: a purely human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of voluntarily produced symbols. Bloch & Trager: a system of arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which a social group cooperates. Hall: the institution whereby humans communicate and interact with each other by means of habitually used oral-auditory arbitrary symbols. Chomsky: a set (finite or infinite) of sentences, each finite in length and constructed out of a finite set of elements.

7 Communication Systems All:1. A mode of communication 2. Semanticity/Meaning 3. Pragmatic function Some:4. Interchangeability 5. Cultural transmission 6. Arbitrariness 7. Discreteness Human8. Displacement Language9. Productivity

8 What is Linguistics? Anthropology studies human beings in the round Linguistics studies language in all its forms. Description of languages Theory of Language Historical connections from Grammar, philology Has many contemporary connections Philosophy, history, archeology, literature, anthropology, sociology, psychology, neuropsychology, biology, physics, mathematics, computer programming

9 Ferdinand de Saussure ( ) Swiss linguist, working on Indo- European philology came to reinvent the system, the way language is theorized. Course in General Linguistics posthumously compiled from notes and lecture notes of his students. Modern structuralism - rules of relations among elements Semiology (semiotics)

10 Competence and Performance Language is more than rules. Not just vocabulary and grammar. Saussures langue and parole Language and speaking Language is a social system, shared by a speech community Speaking always happens in a context

11 Study Language (langue) not speech (parole) The subject matter of linguistics comprises all manifestations of human speech, whether that of savages or civilized nations, or of archaic, classical or decadent periods. 1)Describe all observable languages 2)Trace their histories (families), reconstruction 3)Determine permanent, universal forces, deduce general laws 4)Delimit and define the discipline

12 Saussurian Duality of Language 1) Oral - aural pairing 2) Union of sound-image and concept 3) individual and social 4) Synchronic and diachronic realities An established system on the one hand Always a product of the past

13 Langue is the true object of study Parole (speech, speaking, articulation) is messy, heterogeneous, variable, based in the individual, changing Langue (language, competence) is both a social product of the faculty of speech and a collection of necessary conventions that have been adopted by a social body to permit individuals to exercise that faculty.

14 Social crystallization of langue Among all the individuals that are linked together by speech, some sort of average will be set up: all will reproducenot exactly of course, but approximatelythe same signs united with the same concepts. The social, the essential Not the individual, accidental, accessory

15 Two people conversing

16 Semiotic circuit

17 langue is no less concrete than parole Whereas speech is heterogeneous, language, as defined is homogeneous. It is a system of signs in which the only essential thing is the union of meanings and sound-images, and in which both parts of the sign are psychological. linguistic signs are not abstractions

18 Two modes of analysis Synchronic - description of the state of a language at a particular moment Diachronic - change through time, comes from comparing sequences of synchronic analyses Antecedents are not origins

19 Linguistics as a model for general semiology Language is comparable to a symphony in that what the symphony actually is stands completely apart from how it is performed; the mistakes that musicians make in playing the symphony do not compromise this fact.

20 Saussurian principles Language is form, not substance Units of language can only be defined by their relationships Structuralism first enunciated by Prague School of Linguists following these principles (Roman Jakobson, Nikolay Trubetskoy)

21 Semiotic point of view: system of signs An open-ended, arbitrary symbol system – A signal is transmitted from a sender to a receiver (or group of receivers) along a channel of communication. The signal will have a particular form and will convey a particular meaning (or message). The connection between form and meaning constitutes a code.

22 Emile Benveniste explanation of Structuralism Saussure never uses the word structure: Language is a system that has its own arrangement. The system is an interdependent whole. If one part is modified, the whole system is affected because it remains coherent.

23 Structuralism Trubetskoy: One cannot determine the place of a word in a lexical system until one has studied the structure of the said system. A science of the whole - system of relations system is formed of units that mutually affect one another distinguished from other systems by the internal arrangements of these units arrangement is structure

24 French structuralism Benveniste: The structuralist doctrine teaches the predominance of the system over the elements, and aims to define the structure of the system through the relationships among the elements, in the spoken chain as well as in formal paradigms, and shows the organic character of the changes to which language is subject.

25 Arbitrariness Benveniste, Nature of the Linguistic Sign: Arbitrariness of the sign is when analyzed across systems The linguistic sign is non-arbitrary (necessary) within the system. Cant say just anything and be speaking English. Natural logic of the system (Whorf)

26 Langue, parole, langage langue - language the formal system of grammar (code) parole - speech the realization of langue in actual talk langage - language/speech the overall phenomenon of which langue and parole are subparts

27 studies the life of signs within society shows what constitute signs, what laws govern them language is the prototypical semiological system Science of signs - semiology

28 Phonemes Minimal meaningful contrast in sound. Smallest unit of meaningful difference in sounds. The units which we call phonemes are in themselves of no importance: it is the differences among them that count.

29 Phonetics Description of all the sounds in a language Phonology is the study and theory of sounds in Language

30 Phonetics websites or

31 top stop little kitten hunter Phonetics studies and describes perceptible differences

32 Phonemics analyses meaningful contrasts in sound Voiced vs. unvoiced is a meaningful contrast in English, carries a heavy functional load Bit - pit Done - ton Could - good Minimal Pairs highlight phonemic contrasts

33 Not all differences are meaningful Aspiration in English is not meaningful Top - stop t h t Redundantly associated with voiceless tab - tap b- p or p h

34 Hindi /tali/ = key /t h ali/ = strip /kap/ = cup /kap h / = phlegm /p h l/ = fruit /p l/ = moment /b l/ = strength Other languages contrast aspirated and unaspirated Korean /keda/ = fold /k h eda/ = dig out

35 Stress English: present, object, construct, implant, Pitch/Tone Chinese Length Korean: ildayi:lwork sedato countse:dastrong pamnightpa:mchestnut German : die Stadt, der Staat More examples of phonemic contrasts

36 Etic distinctions External frameworks or universal classificatory grids Linguistic typologies (e.g., analytic, inflecting, agglutinating, polysynthetic) Linnaean classification of plants & animals (genus, species) Disease (medical pathology) But are these just our (Western) emic categories, deployed universally?

37 emics System-internal description and analysis Explains social or cultural elements according to indigenous definitions/categories Not the natives model Boass secondary rationalization, Turners exegetical models Emic models, like phonemes, are constructions formalized by the analyst on the basis of distinctive features present in indigenous usage

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