Presentation on theme: "1 Cognitive sociolinguistics Richard Hudson Budapest March 2012."— Presentation transcript:
1 Cognitive sociolinguistics Richard Hudson Budapest March 2012
2 Sociolinguistics The study of how language structure is related to social structure –how speakers signal social groups e.g. I am British –how speakers signal social relations e.g. I am 'the speaker' –(how speakers signal cultural beliefs) e.g. I know about 'sociolinguistics'
3 Two approaches to sociolinguistics External: 'E-sociolinguistics' –observation of others' behaviour –data-collection and data-analysis –focusing on groups Internal: 'I-sociolinguistics' –speculation about mental processes –model-building –focusing on individuals
4 I-sociolinguistics in Word Grammar "The individual speaker is important in sociolinguistics in much the same way that the individual cell is important in biology. If we don't understand how the individual works, to that extent we shan't be able to understand how collections of individuals behave either." (1980/1996 "Sociolinguistics" p.10)
5 Cognitive sociolinguistics = "I-sociolinguistics" Builds on E-sociolinguistics But tries to explain observed patterns through mental models of individuals. –Why do we accommodate? –How do we achieve "inherent variability"? –etc. A branch of cognitive linguistics?
6 Cognitive linguistics Cognitive linguistics: –language is knowledge, but just like other kinds of knowledge –NOT a "mental module" But the two main branches of cognitive linguistics don't include sociolinguistics
7 Sociolinguistics in Cognitive linguistics "Sociolinguistic research … is probably the least developed of all linguistic domains within Cognitive Linguistics. Recently, though, we witness some developments toward cognitive sociolinguistics." –Geeraerts and Cuyckens 2007: 16 "There have so far been few sociolinguistic studies specifically exploiting descriptive constructs of Cognitive Grammar …" –Langacker 2007: 450
8 The aim of cognitive sociolinguistics To build a mental model of society –what do members of a society know about it? –about individuals –about their relations to one another –about institutions To build a mental model of language To show how the two are related.
9 Social structure Social structure is built round: –individuals –social categories, e.g. "male", "British" –social relations, e.g. "husband" –institutions, e.g. "London" These are interrelated in a network. –so we need a diagramming system e.g. Word Grammar
10 Dick Hudson's network me Gaynor London Brit UK city lives in husband wife "is-a"
11 Social structure and cognition We obviously know such things about our society. –but in vast quantities –and with enormous complexities This knowledge affects our behaviour –we behave differently in different situations Others' behaviour affects our knowledge –we learn by observing others
12 Back to language … If our minds can learn social networks … maybe we use the same ability to learn language? If so, then language too must be a network, –as claimed by Word Grammar. So Word Grammar is suitable for cognitive sociolinguistics.
13 The raw material of language "Exemplar representations are rich memory representations. They contain, at least potentially, all the information a language user can perceive in a linguistic experience. …[including] properties of the social, physical and linguistic context." –Bybee 2010: 14
14 For example, what do you know? I am tired. –I = the speaker. –am = a state existing now. So our memory for a word must be able to relate it to: –the speaker –the current time These memories may be –specific – just one occasion –general – about the word's general meaning.
15 The language network Word Grammar locates a word in a network of relations: to a meaning to a pronunciation to a word-class to a language to a speaker to a time etc
16 For example: I am … I am subject complement meaning time T time verb English 'is-a'
17 Deictic meaning ME YOU NOW HERE referent speaker referent addressee referent time referent place
18 Non-social contextual semantics deixis (deictic meaning) –e.g. I = speaker, present-tense: time = now illocutionary force –e.g. Come in! = I ask you to come in. performatives –e.g. I beg you to stop! = I beg you to stop emotional language –e.g. What the hell is it? = I'm surprised
19 Language and non-language Even without sociolinguistics, any theory of language structure must link a word to: –its speaker (e.g. me, What the hell) –its addressee (e.g. you, Come in!) –its time (e.g. now, am/was) –etc. So these external links are already available for sociolinguists –but only in Word Grammar!
20 Other parts of WG theory Conceptual structure: –A network of related nodes –Built round a hierarchy of 'is-a' relations Conceptual processes: –Default inheritance (across 'is-a') –Spreading activation for retrieval –Node-creation for: tokens learning
21 Default inheritance and node creation Brit x Linguist BISCUIT MORPHEME speaker BISCUIT* speaker MORPHEME* speaker
22 Activation The mental network is active. –permanent activity recording frequency (etc) –temporary activity reacting to current concerns Different nodes and relations have different activity levels guiding choice. –synonyms (SOMEBODY or SOMEONE?) –social categories (British or Londoner?)
23 Choosing between synonyms e.g. somebody or someone? –Google: 430 million vs 2,120 million –so someone is more active –so we prefer someone –but not every time why not?
24 Modelling a choice between synonyms SOMEONE SOMEBODY someone/body ? meaning a word being planned
25 Choosing between social categories e.g. Northerner or Londoner? –Northerner: one = /w ɒ n/ (like wan) –Londoner: one = /w ʌ n/ (like won) me: –childhood in the North –adulthood in London
26 Northerner or Londoner? Northerner me Londoner ? ONE /w ɒ n/ speaker /w ʌ n/ /w ɒ n/ speaker
27 The ultimate research project Record 12 speakers in two situations –3 social variables = 2 ages x 2 sexes x 3 classes –count variants for 12 linguistic variables Build a single model of I-language and I- society which –quantifies activation –integrates all variables.
28 Conclusion E-sociolinguistics observes the behaviour of individuals. I-sociolinguistics explains the behaviour of individuals whose … –social analysis follows activation –behaviour follows default inheritance Sociolinguistics meets psycholinguistics!