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Speech Community Theory

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Katrine Sorensen

on 21 May 2013

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Transcript of Speech Community Theory

Definition of a speech community "A communication culture exists when people share understandings about goals of communication, strategies for enacting those goals, and ways of interpreting communication" (Wood, 1995, p. 19). Origin of Speech Community Theory 'Discourse Communities' - Term introduced by Suzanne Langer in the 40s to describe how a group shares a symbol system and meanings.

Dell Hymes elaborated on Langer's idea in 1962 by adding that a 'Speech community' also shares norms and rules that guide how members communicate and interpret communication.

Hymes concluded that communication should be interpreted in a cultural context (Wood, 2004). Speech Community Theory Beyond language Examples of speech communities Users of technology/social media
Members of a faculty
Men/women Applications of Speech Community Theory Can help interpret misunderstandings between members of different speech communities
Can provide insight into styles of communication
Examines how communication reinforces the feeling of unity and vice versa By Katrine Sorensen Speech Community Theory Characteristics of a speech community:
Common language
Rules and norms that guide use of communication
Shared goals of communication
Members use communications practices that are not understood by outsiders of the group Culture Social group communication More than just language (Spanish, Swedish, Swahili, etc.) Q: Does language/communication create a sense of community? How? Limitations of Speech Community Theory Focus on differences between groups, and not the differences within the groups
Creates group stereotypes
Fuel division between social groups Case study: David Beckham "Factors such as social mobility and geographical location can have an impact on the way adults pronounce words, because our peer groups and communities are influential on our language too" (Daily Mail, April 15, 2013). How do speech communities affect group dynamics? Q: Q: Is it unfair to make assumptions about people based on the way they speak? If so, how can we overcome these assumptions? (NewsChannelBest, April 17, 2013) (JH0720, November 11, 2007)
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