Lecture 8 Words and Rules

Lecture 8 Words and Rules - From last time Speech sounds...

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From last time Speech sounds are elements devoid of meaning that combine in systematic ways to form meaningful elements. Speech sounds are themselves composed of smaller elements serving as instructions for the vocal tract to produce sound. The human brain uses all kinds of information in addition to sound in order to process and comprehend speech input. This information also allows people to make inferences about people based on their speech. And we accommodate our own speech to the inferences of others.
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‘Rhoticity’ in English Rhotics = r -like sounds Pronunciation of r after vowels and: * before consonants: card, beard, tarp, purple, etc. * word-finally: four, car, sure, motor, later, etc. Most American varieties pronounce these r ’s (‘rhotic’ varieties), while many British varieties don’t (‘non-rhotic’ varieties). * Note: r ’s before vowels are pronounced in all varieties: real, Mary, arid, my car is, etc.
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Arbitrariness of prestige Standard American English is rhotic and Standard British English is non-rhotic. So the relationship between rhoticity and prestige is arbitrary. Non-rhotic varieties of American English are slowly receding, due to the prestige of rhoticity in the United States.
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Why do some stigmatized varieties stick around? British English prestigious in the US during the colony (and after): r-lessness in pronunciation was fashionable. Early debate -> British English or American English as the standard of usage of the new independent nation. But Americans began to distance themselves from Britain through language. British English was overtly prestigious, but American English had covert prestige : it was a symbol of American independence
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What is covert (Linguistic) prestige? Covert Prestige* = The status given to stigmatized languages or language varieties because they give their speakers a sense of their identity and solidarity. (*The term ‘covert prestige’ was coined by Labov)
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Different languages and dialects have different rules for combining sounds. These rule differences are what lead us to perceive ‘accents’. A rule that is prestigious in one language variety may be non-prestigious in another variety of the same language.
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