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Language Variation by C Hardacre

Mancunian dialect in the adult literacy classroom

Charlotte Hardacre

on 6 April 2012

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Transcript of Language Variation by C Hardacre

What are yous up to?
My classroom
and finally
The achievement of competence in Standard English is best brought about on the basis of pupils' understanding of and respect for their existing language competences, and on the basis of the teachers respect for and interest in those varieties.

(Carter 1999:164)
North Manchester
Close social network - shared socio-economic background, neighbourhood, gender, age-group and by being mothers of school-aged children.
Here again is variation from Standard English as a result of an attempt to converge casual speech to more formal but unfamiliar written structure.
Summing Up
I can say that in my class language variation is evident in the use of a Mancunian dialect. Within this dialect variation occurs as a result of register and style. The learner's personal perception of their own language competence also has a marked effect on both written and spoken language choices.
The use of tails is a grammatical pattern in spoken English that has been recorded in all regions by all social groups in a wide variety of settings. It is Standard English but not the type found in grammar books based on written usage.
I'm going to have haddock and chips, I am

They haven't mended the road yet haven't those workmen

It's not actually very good is it that wine
The shared Mancunian dialect of my learners is the most apparent aspect of language variation in this setting.
By contrasting the above usage with Standard English we can mark out a distinct variety.
Language Variation
Language Variation
in a
Literacy Classroom.
In order to discuss this variation it is necessary to define Standard English
"We was always getting into trouble, us"
He was being dead thingy about it, d'yknow what I mean?
"I were late"
Thanks for Listening!
It is also useful to characterise Standard English by what it is NOT. It is not an accent, style or register. It is a dialect
One more thing...
Do you speak the same dialect as your learners?

How do you vary your language in the classroom?

Do you believe you are objective when assessing your learners' use of spoken English?
Standard English is that variety of English which is usually used in print, and which is normally taught in schools and to non-native speakers learning the language.

It is also the variety which is normally spoken by educated people and used in news broadcasts. Standard English has colloquial as well as formal varients and Standard English speakers swear as much as others
(Trudgill 1995: 6-7)
Rounded vowel sounds
"Oh No! Why me?"
Learners use the word "thingy" as a catch all adjective. They do not struggle to find the "right" word.

When it is used the other members of the social group really do know what the speaker means.

It is an accepted form. It is used within the group when I am not involved in direct conversation and is rarely used as an answer to a question in class. It is evidence of a restricted code.
Barm Cake
Standard: I was You were

Mancunian: I were You was
The register of our setting is marked by the semantic field of Family Learning. Which means lexis such as "phonics", "blending", "reading-book", "literacy target" are in regular use.
As the tutor there is variation in my language use as I adapt to both learners' knowledge and their register and style.

Their use of back chanelling in one to one discussion i.e. "oh yeah", "I get it", "right" is common and allows me to gauge how much additional information to supply.
Style also has an effect. The learners' language choice is specific to their perception of the relative formality of the context and their role within it. For example, one learner may say "Glenis, can I borrow your pen" another may say "Glenis. pen."
Written Variation
Acceptable forms are prescribed. The learners are enrolled and working towards a qualification; success in which will be defined by their ability to competently use Standard English
Instead of combining the verb “to be” with a past participle to form the passive voice; “in the interest of children being treated equally” or simply writing an active sentence such as “private schools should be abolished so that all children are treated equally” the learner creates a less cogent structure in her experimental attempt to replicate a formal tone.

It is interesting that this is the first sentence she writes in the piece and it could be inferred that the pressure of hanging her well-formed spoken ideas onto a formal framework creates this awkward phrasing.
Pupils who speak non-Standard English do so not because they are unintelligent or because they have not been well taught, but because it is the variety of English used all the time by their family and friends.

Any assessment of spoken English, therefore, which gives undue weight to Standard English is measuring not the school's effectiveness, not the pupils ability, but their social background

(Perera 1993: 10)
Shared dialect.
CANCODE -Cambridge Nottingham Corpus of Dicourse in English
We was always getting into trouble, us

Bex, T and Watts, R.J (eds.) (1999) Standard English: the widening debate, London: Routledge

Cameron, D (2002) Verbal Hygiene, London: Routledge

Carter, R (1999) “Standard Grammars, Spoken Grammars: Some Educational Implications” in Bex, T and Watts, R.J (eds.) (1999) Standard English: the widening debate, London: Routledge

Cheshire, J (1999) “Spoken Standard English” in Bex, T and Watts, R.J (eds.) (1999) Standard English: the widening debate, London: Routledge

Fennell, B (2001) A History of English A Sociolinguistic Approach, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing

Milroy, L (1999) “Standard English and Language Ideology in Britain and the United States” in Bex, T and Watts, R.J (eds.) (1999) Standard English: the widening debate, London: Routledge

Trudgill, P (1999) “Standard English: What it isn’t” in Bex, T and Watts, R.J (eds.) (1999) Standard English: the widening debate, London: Routledge
However, whilst is can't be denied that Standard English has prestige it should be noted that it is simply one of a number of varieties of English.

In just the same way as vanilla, chocolate and strawberry are all varieties of ice-cream
A Definition of Standard English
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