12 pp - How language changes in society Causes and...

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Unformatted text preview: How language changes in society Causes and consequences The Continual Nature of Language Change n All languages undergo continual change, generation by generation n Many people have strongly negative feelings towards changes in language. n Is language decaying? Or is it making progress? The standardization of English n 18th century much variation in English n Leading writers establish rules for a standard form of English n Any way of speaking different from standard English is/was considered ungrammatical English. n But English continues to change.. The study of language change n Historical linguistics n The study of the development of languages through the centuries. n E.g. Chaucerian English, Shakespearian English, modern English Is it possible to study ongoing language change? n Can we study changes as they begin to occur, in our own society? n Previous answer: No too difficult. n Modern sociolinguistics: Yes you just need good research techniques. William Labov a pioneer of the study of variation in language n Two key studies: n New York department stores the spread of prestige r n Marthas Vineyard the spread of new vowel sounds The New York project n Variation in the pronunciation of /-r/ in word-final position: n car far m bar mor e fur blur floor n Previous descriptions: whether /-r/ is pronounced or not is just random and unpredictable. Random or not? n The speaker hears both types of pronunciation around him all the time; both seem equally natural to him, and it is a matter of pure chance which form he uses. n Labov: not random variation but related to social status . Accommodation and variation n Sociological studies discovered that female sales assistants in department stores subconsciously mimic their customers, particularly when their customers have high social status. n Labov guessed this accommodation might cause variation in their language. Labovs Hypothesis n The /-r/ sound was regularly used by upper- and upper-middle class people. n Therefore, it might occur more frequently in the accommodated speech of lower class sales assistants in the better department stores. Data collection from three different department stores with different class- levels of customers: n Saks Fifth Avenue an upmarket department store in the centre of Manhattan n Macys a middle class, middle-priced store n Kleins a cheap store with low-cost goods in a poorer part of Manhattan Data Collection Techniques and the Observers Paradox n It is easy to get samples of careful...
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12 pp - How language changes in society Causes and...

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