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Unformatted text preview: Chapter 21
Language, Society, and Culture Sociolingusitics
Sociolingusitics Sociolinguistics: the study of the interrelationships between language and society. Social dialects
Social dialects Social dialects: varieties of language used by groups defined according to social class, education, age, sex, and other social parameters. Social dialects
Social dialects Overt prestige: the generally recognized “better” or positively valued ways of speaking in social communities.
Covert prestige: a “hidden” positive value attached to nonstandard forms and expressions by certain subgroups (use of non
standard forms as markers of social solidarity within the subgroup). Variables Affecting Social Variables Affecting Social Dialects Social Class
Gender Social class and education
Social class and education Labov study on differences in pronunciation among salespeople at 3 NY dept stores: Saks (high status), Macy’s (middle status) and Klien’s (low status).
He found that the higher the prestige of the store, the more /r/ sounds were produced (higher v. lowah social class). Age and gender
Age and gender Systematic gender differences: Females tend to use more prestigious forms than males (same social background)
Women talking to women – discuss personal feelings more than men.
Men talking to men – discuss nonpersonal topics (sports and news).
When feelings or problems are expressed, men tend to give advice on solutions and women mention similar personal experiences.
In mixed gender conversations, men interrupt more often. Ethnic background
Ethnic background BEV = Black English Vernacular is the name that has been given to a dialect spoken by some African Americans. 2 characteristics of BEV: Absence of forms of the verb “to be” in many sayings (they mine). Double negation Idiolect
Idiolect Idiolect: personal dialect of an individual speaker. Factors such as voice quality and pitch contribute to an individual’s speech along with regional and social dialect – all of these combine to make a person’s speech distinctive. Style
Style An individual can vary their speech in certain situations. Our speech style varies along a continuum from formal to informal.
Vocabulary Tone of Voice Mannerisms Written versus spoken Diglossia
Diglossia Diglossia: a situation in which two very different varieties of language soexist in a speech community, each with a distinct range of social functions EX: Period of English history when French was the language of culture and government and English was spoken by the peasants. EX: In Western Europe, Latin was used for formal matters and local languages (Eng, Fr) were used for informal conversation. Register and jargon
Register and jargon Register: variation in language according to use in specific situations – ways of saying things only occur in certain contexts (religious register – ye, thou).
Jargon: technical vocabulary associated with a special activity or group. A social function of separating “insiders” from “outsiders.” Linguistic determinism
Linguistic determinism Developed in the 1930s Linguistic determinism: theory that attempts to explain the way a language is organized and how the people who speak it perceive the world. Language determines thought. SapirWhorf hypothesis
SapirWhorf hypothesis Two proponents of the linguistic determination were Sapir and Whorf, linguists who studied Native American languages.
Thought that the language of Native Americans led them to view the world differently from those who spoke European languages.
In the Hopi language, there is grammatical animacy marker: some nouns are marked as animate and others are inanimate. SapirWhorf hypothesis
SapirWhorf hypothesis If linguistic determinism were true, language change would be impossible. We don’t inherit a fixed set of patterns to use. We are discovering new things all the time, and if language determined thought, we would not be able to accept and think about new things because there would not be any new words for them. SapirWhorf hypothesis
SapirWhorf hypothesis Words and phrases are being coined all the time to label and describe things that are discovered. It seems more appropriate to say that language changes to accommodate thought and ideas, not the other way around. Language universals
Language universals Properties shared by every human language. Every human language: Can be learned by children Employs an arbitrary symbol system Can be used to send and receive messages Has nounlike and verblike components which are organized within a limited set of patterns to produce complex utterances. ...
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- Fall '08