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Whats left of the course (today) 6. Accommodation and sociolinguistic variables 7. Acts of identity 8. Inequality – social and linguistic To be compressed.

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Presentation on theme: "Whats left of the course (today) 6. Accommodation and sociolinguistic variables 7. Acts of identity 8. Inequality – social and linguistic To be compressed."— Presentation transcript:


2 Whats left of the course (today) 6. Accommodation and sociolinguistic variables 7. Acts of identity 8. Inequality – social and linguistic To be compressed for lack of time: –Sex differences –Language structure and its social functions

3 Sociolinguistics 6 Accommodation and sociolinguistic variables

4 The story so far Our knowledge of social structure is an inheritance network, so it consists of: –isa hierarchies of person-types E.g. Doctor isa Adult isa Person –Isa hierarchies of relation-types E.g. Parent isa Close kin isa Intimate isa Relation We each build ourselves a face defined in terms of this social structure.

5 An example

6 Face and social structure Our face defines – our person-type. –our relations to other people. It is important because it defines the rights we claim from others: –Positive rights (for respect – and, indirectly, help), based on solidarity –Negative rights (for freedom), based on power.

7 Flexible face Our face is not fixed – we choose it and signal it. We can vary our face according to: –The situation, e.g. tutorial or chat –Our addressee (or listener!) So we vary both: –Our person-type (social identity) –Our relation

8 How to manage solidarity We negotiate solidarity relations We tend to like those who are like us. So, to increase solidarity we may use dedicated behaviour, e.g. –touching –smiling –saying darling Conversely, solidarity affects our behaviour.

9 I dont like you!

10 I like being with you.

11 I do like you!

12 Accommodation We can increase solidarity by increasing similarity: –Non-linguistic behaviour, e.g. walk like them. –Linguistic behaviour: speak more like them. This is called accommodation

13 In step with each other

14 In harmony

15 Linguistic convergence Why do children learn their native language so perfectly? –Because they want maximum solidarity with their models. –Including fine details of pronunciation and irregular grammar But sometimes their carers compromise too!

16 Danny and Mummy converging Danny: Look. he went (winter). (winterz) Mummy: vintage yes. one two three vintage cars Danny: fast car vintage. fast car vintage Mummy: fast car vintage Danny: fast car vintage

17 But divergence is possible too: A number of people who were learning Welsh were asked to help with a survey. In their separate booths in the language laboratory, they were asked a number of questions by an RP-sounding English speaker. At one point this speaker arrogantly challenged the learners' reasons for trying to acquire Welsh which he called a "dying language which had a dismal future". In responding to this statement the learners generally broadened their Welsh accents. Some introduced Welsh words into their answers, while others used an aggressive tone. One woman did not reply for a while, and then she was heard conjugating Welsh verbs very gently into the microphone. (Giles)

18 Evidence for accommodation

19 How they talk in Norwich Ive got something humorous happened to me, one thing Ill never forget. [Whats that?] Eh? We …well th… this is, this is when I first met my husband … cos I generally … you know, my daughter always laugh at that

20 So: Post-vocalic /t/ = [ ] (glottal stop) –E.g. forget, daughter Long / ɑ:/ = [a:] –E.g. laugh

21 But: I went to go in first … thought that was a long passage and that wasnt … they had forty steps and I fell right to the bottom

22 So … The pronunciation of at least /t/ varies: its a sociolinguistic variable with a choice of variants : –Sometimes [t] –Sometimes [ ] –Standard notation: (t): [t] ~ [ ] In fact the same is true of / ɑ:/: –(a:): [ɑ:] ~ [a:]

23 Quantitative dialectology Variable behaviour requires a new kind of dialectology. Speakers can differ quantitatively in terms of how often they choose each variant on each variable. So each speaker can be given a score for each variable, e.g. one variant as a percentage of the total for the variable.

24 For example Speaker A says 20 words containing (t) –5 pronounced with [t] –15 with [ ] –So As score for [t] = 5/20 x 100% = 25% Two speakers: –Speaker A scores 25% –Speaker B scores 37%

25 Back to accommodation This Norwich speaker was talking to an interviewer in a research project. The same interviewer interviewed many other speakers, each with slightly different pronunciations. Did the interviewer accommodate to the informants (interviewees)?

26 The interviewer: Peter Trudgill

27 student of William Labov:

28 Source:

29 The (t ) variable: Trudgill (top line) & subjects (lower)

30 So: He did accommodate to his subjects. How? By adjusting his score – i.e. a subtle quantitative change. Why? To increase solidarity. Why? To make them like him. Why? To encourage them to help. Why? Because we help those who are close to us.

31 Accommodation for solidarity

32 But: the ( a:) variable …

33 Comments The figures for (a:) and (t) are based on the same recordings – same people, same occasion. But Peter Trudgill –did accommodate on (t) but –did not accommodate on (a:).

34 Why no accommodation on (a:)? Because each variable signals different social information in terms of: –Social types, e.g. Norwich-er –Situation types, e.g. Casual (t):[ ] signals casual as well as Norwich-er. –So Trudgill could pretend to accommodate on this. (a:):[a:] signals only Norwich. –So he couldnt shift on this. (This is his own explanation.)

35 Coming shortly 7. Acts of identity 8. Inequality – social and linguistic

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