Lecture 3 Dialects and Standards

Lecture 3 Dialects and Standards - Recap from last lecture...

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Recap from last lecture The belief that there is are ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways to speak or write leads some people to be prescriptive about language use, telling people how they should or shouldn’t speak or write . Linguists acknowledge that social conventions about language are what deFne ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways to speak or write, and so seek instead to be descriptive about language use: discovering what it is that people do and don’t do when they actually speak or write.
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Today’s topic: Dialects and standards
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Language and dialect • Everyone speaks a dialect of some language. • We use the term ‘language’ as a generic term for what we study as linguists. • The term “language variety” is an umbrella term for ‘language’ and ‘dialect’. • What’s a language, and what’s a dialect?
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Everyone speaks a dialect? • Yes! The term dialect refers to a speech variety shared by some group of people (a speech community). • The speech community may be deFned: a) regionally b) ethnically c) in terms of other social factors (age, gender, ethnicity,. ..).
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How to characterize dialects? • Dialects may be defned by: a) Vocabulary b) Grammar c) Pronunciation d) Pragmatics (i.e., rate oF speech)
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Characterizing Dialects: Vocabulary One method is to examine different vocabulary for a single item/concept: – Hoagie (Philadelphia) – Submarine sandwich (Midwest) – Grinder (Northeast) – Po-boy (New Orleans) – Hero (New York)
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What do you call this? A carbonated soft drink?
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Grammatical differences • Is 10:45 a quarter ‘of’, ‘to’, or ‘till’ eleven? • Locative ‘to’ (as in “I was over to my friend’s house the other day.”) • Double modals allowed or not allowed (“I might could do it.”) • Differentiation of you-singular and you- plural in pronoun (e.g., you and youse) and/ or in verb agreement: e.g., You was at the store. You were at the store.
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Everyone speaks an idiolect The intricate system of sounds, words, and rules for combining them that each of us has internalized is unique. “We all speak ‘English’ but no two of us speak it in the same way.” Richard W. Bailey, “American English: its origins and history.” In E. Finegan & J.Rickford (eds.), Language in the USA: Themes for the 21st Century, p. 6. (CUP, 2004). This makes sense under the view that language is (largely) a social convention: each person has a unique social experience, and so each person internalizes a unique set of conventions.
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Groups of people speak dialects Luckily, there is enough convergence of idiolects for (mostly) successful communication to take place. The more separated speech communities are (regionally, socially, temporally), the more their dialects may diverge. Temporally? Change happens! The speech varieties of
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This note was uploaded on 09/24/2011 for the course LIGN 8 taught by Professor Bakovic,e during the Spring '08 term at UCSD.

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Lecture 3 Dialects and Standards - Recap from last lecture...

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