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Presentations for the two sociolinguistics classes for LING101.

Joshua Smolders

on 14 November 2013

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Transcript of Sociolinguistics

Demographic Dialects
When Languages Collide
Language, Politics, and Power
Sociolinguistics is the study of the relationship between society and language variation.
“The study of the relationship between language structures as they are used in discourse and the social roles and/or situations associated with them.”

~ O’Grady
“Sociolinguistics... is concerned with the relationship between language and a variety of social factors... the influence of social factors on language and language use is important, but equally important is the influence of language on society."

~ Baker & Hengeveld.
Lingua Franca
"A language adopted primarily for communicating between different speech communities; usually the second language of all speakers"
"Trade language"
"Language of Wider Communication" (LWC)
What causes it?
Interaction between two or more language groups in a particular social domain.
Maintenance of the mother tongue within the individual language groups
Adoption of the language of one of the groups or from a language from outside the groups to serve as the LWC.
- the language of commerce
- the language of law
- religion and trade
- trade and education
- education and government

- the language of the world
"A language that emerges when speakers of different languages are brought together in a stable situation requiring inter-group communication."
No native speakers

A blend of languages

Restricted social role
What causes it?
Creation of a environment that requires communication in the absence of bilingualism or a Lingua Franca.
e.g. European trade in the pacific
e.g. Slave plantations
Tok Pisin
Simplified phonology

Small lexicon

Simplified morpho-syntax
kuku ania guana
"smoke eat thing"
lahi gabua guana
"fire burn thing"
e.g. no consonant clusters
e.g. loss of hard to produce sounds
e.g. no inflectional morphology
e.g. no gender or plural marking
Developed in the 1800's between Russian and Norwegian fisherman working off the north coast of Norway.
Approx. 150-200 words, including "Kristus" and "Arkangel".
A true blend. Each party thought they were speaking the other's lagnauge:
Kak sprek?
Developed through trade between the British and the indigenous people of Papua New Guinea.
Received most of its vocabulary from English:
Papa bilong mipela
Yu stap long heven.
Nem bilong yu i mas i stap holi.
Kingdom bilong yu i mas i kam.
Began to be used as a Lingua Franca among the indigenous peoples.
Developed into a Creole.
"A pidgin language that is passed on to the next generation and becomes the first language of a community."

1. The process by which a language that had previously not been anyone’s mother tongue becomes the first language of a generation of speakers.

2. Involves lexical expansion and grammatical complication.
“The relationship between multiple varieties spoken by one speech community but with sharply different domains of use.” (O’Grady & Archibald 2012)
“A situation where two distinct varieties of one language coexist throughout a speech community, each being allotted a range of different functions with very little overlap.” (Coulmas 2005).
Talking to subordinates
Public address
Variety 1
Variety 2
Classical vs. Colloquial Arabic
English vs. Patios
Many middle eastern cultures utilize classical Arabic in education, religion, and official governmental domains
In the market and at home, however, a local dialect of Arabic is spoken
On many of the island nations that were formerly British colonies (e.g. Jamaica, Trinidad) "proper British English" is taught in the schools and used in all official capacities
The mother tongue of most of the people, however, which they use in daily life is their English creole (often just thought of as "lazy" or "corrupted" English).
Some parts of Ethiopia maintain quadro-glossia!
Ge'ez is the dead language of the Abyssinians. It is used in the religious domain and is considered the highest form of language
Amharic is the official state language and is a indirect decendant of Ge'ez, and is used media and government related domains
English is the language of higher education

Finally, many of the local people use their mother tongue (e.g. Oromo, Gumuz) in the home and in the market depending on what state they live in.
Sociolinguistics also studies the various phenomena that occur when multiple languages converge within a single social situation.
Dialect Leveling
Code Switching
"When several dialects of a language converge in a sustained social environment and over time merge into a single variety. "
What causes it?
- Industrialization
- Standardization
- Migration
- Modernization
Is it happening in Canada and the US?
"When multilinguals (people who speak two or more languages) strategically choose to use one variety over the other in particular discourse situations."
"The systematic choice by one speaker of elements of two or more languages, dialects, or varieties during a single conversation" (Coulmas 2005)
"The systematic alternation between language systems in discourse " (O'Grady)
What ce n'est pas
NOT due to lexical gaps or linguistic deficiency.
NOT just borrowing certain lexical items.
NOT interference from an L1
What are some of the causes of code switching?

What are some of the reasons for code switching?
Sociolinguistics studies how different social factors affect language, and vice versa, within a single group.
What some of the ways we can segment and study society?
Dialectology - The study of regional varieties of language
2. "Dialect Geography" maps words or ways of speaking
1. "Dialect description" tries to capture how a regional variety differs from the standard.
Canadian v.s American
cutlery / silverware
processed cheese
brown bread
chocolate bar
american cheese
wheat bread
candy bar
Lexical / Semantic Differences
Discourse Differences
"Sorry" vs. "uh-huh"

"eh? " vs. "huh?"
Phonological Differeneces
house, mouse, about,
roof, hoof, too,
caught, cot
culture, ultimate
semi, multi,
Language reflects how well bred you are
and how much money you make.
Sociolect - a social variety of a language
"Just dropped three-hundred bucks on a wicked new tat."
"Very pleased to meet you Mr. Schuster."
"Wanna get a coffee?"
"Sorry I'm late, traffic was terrible!"
"How's it goin' bro?"
"Are you new here?"
"Would you like to proceed with that?"
"Certainly, that was unequivocally disastrous."
"Yeah, that was, like, so totally messed up."
"It's a double rainbow all the way across the sky!"
"Hey peeps, are you jonesing for some Djembe?
Lawyer or Hipster?
Ethnolect - an ethnic variety of a language
African American Vernacular English
~ Dr. Peter Patrick
Also called "Ebonics".

It ain't no corrupted English. Its officially recognized as a dialect.
Replaces "th" with [t], [d], & [f] .
Realizes final "ng" as [n]
Metathasis: "Lemme [aks] you guys"
"I been..." (Past imperfective)
"I done..." (Past perfective)
"I be..." (Present)
"I'ma..." (Future)
Double negative
"She ain't got no soul!"
"Don't nobody know the answer!"
"It is a basic axiom of sociolinguistics that bias against a language or dialect stands in for bias against its speakers. From this point of view, an attack by outsiders on the validity of changing names for an ethnic group of people or their language could be seen as quite simply racist."
"A fashionable old man is a contradiction in terms"
~Dwight Bolinger
Fashionable adolescents
New words - "google"
New uses for old words - "sick"
New morphology - "-izzle"
New phrases - "I know, right?"
Last Year's Seniors
Cute Babies
Standard Adults
Socially expected talk from babies
Socially acceptable talk to babies
Ages 25-60 people gravitate toward a larger dialectical standard
Social standards change radically for addressing people and how you are addressed.
Often reflects dying linguistic forms.
Marked by physical restrictions of age.
A linguistic expression associated with the elderly will not likely experience a resurgence.
1. What makes an expression archaic or modern?
3. What do babies, dogs, foreigners, and mentally inhibited seniors have in common?
2. Why do young people constantly come up with new expressions?
A person's gender affects their speech and their speech affects their gender.
gender =/= biological sex
What are some of the differences between how boys talk and how girls talk?
How many of you have assumed a person's sexual orientation based entirely on the way they talk?
Russian & Arabic (Egyptian)
Gender Encoded
Korean vs. English
In Japanese there are many stylistic and lexical differences between how men and women speak.
e.g. Women usually use the polite pronoun "watashi" when referring to people while men usually use "kimi".
Korean has one pronoun for "he/she/it".
Compare with English, which uses "natural gender", meaning we differentiate our pronouns on the basis of actual biological sex.
Just as we can tell certain social factors in a person by their appearance, so we can tell certain social factors by their language.
Sociolinguistics studies the ways in which language can shape identities and power relationships between groups.
What is the difference?
Who decides?
1. The Scientific Answer
2. The Political Answer
Danish and Norwegian
“A language is a dialect with an army and a navy.” ~Max Weinreich
Linguists use a test called "mutual intelligibility" to determine whether two linguistic systems are languages or dialects

Generally, if they can understand each other, the varieties are called dialects of the same language, but it they can’t, then the varieties are called separate languages.
Mutual intelligibility – a situation where speakers of two different varieties are able to understand parts of one another’s speech.
Different "languages" despite 71% oral intelligibility and 91% written.
Both considered "dialects" of Chinese despite 0% intelligibility between monolingual speakers
Mandarin and Cantonese
Members of a society use language differences to assign values to other members of a society.
Why do people insist that a certain variety of a language is "correct?"
Standard Variety
The variety of language spoken by the most powerful group in a community and generally held to be "correct" by prescriptive grammarians.
Power Factors in Language
The social value attached to a linguistic variant considered to be the one used by the group holding the highest esteem in the community; frequently believed to be the "correct" form.

Prescriptive grammar

 Writing system

 Educational materials

 Dictionaries

Factors that can elevate a variety
"Biggest pet peeve in middle school was when kids would say "Gimme it back!"....ITS GIVE IT BACK TO ME. sorry i'm still angry over it."

"If this did come across to harshly for anyone, then they needed it."

"LOL. Love it! Don't forget about the misuse of "less" and "fewer" in most grocery stores across the USA. X number of items or less annoys me, as tangible items require the use of fewer. If I were buying intangibles like love or respect (if only), less would be appropriate. Well, if "irregardless" is in the dictionary, I guess less and fewer are fungible. "
Some of the Comments:
Does an “official language status” guarantee that a smaller, minority language has the same rights as the dominant, majority language? Why or why not?
...Official Status
what is the official language of...?
South Africa
Language Planning
Government policy that aims to increase or limit the domains of use for one or more languages.
The government sponsors the expansion of the lexicon of Swahili to be able to accommodate all domains of government and education.
Beginning with the communist revolution, the government sought to unify vastly different people groups through imposing Mandarin.
The federal and Quebec provincial government are seeking to preserve the French language through laws that privilege it over English in that province.
Who am I?
Language and Identity
Language is inseparably tied to identity and self esteem.
Case Study 1
Case Study 2
How does this affect Bible Translation?
Two people groups scientifically speak different dialects. Historical fidelity from a common homeland and lineage has caused a firm sense of unity, however. Each group insists it speaks the same language as the other and they want a Bible translation that is a compromise between the "supposed differences".
Two people groups scientifically speak the same dialect. Historical baggage such as former enslavement and religious differences have caused deep resentment however. Each group insists it speaks a different language from the other and each wants a distinct translation of the Bible not based on the other.
Some Key Terms
A set of linguistic structures (e.g. words, phrases) that is associated with a particular speech situation or style (e.g. university linguistics course, religious ceremony, British pub).
A social setting for language use (e.g. work, home, church, telemarketing phone call).
1. The language-identity bond can define a langauge by its people or a people by its language.
2. The prestige of a language can affect the self-valuing of a people group.
e.g. Urdu and Punjabi
e.g. unwritten minority language groups might feel that their language isn't "real"
e.g. majority or written language groups might believe in their "right to rule".
3. Empowering a language can empower a people's identity.
Boxing Day...
... greenback
... ZIP code
... bayou
... Columbus Day
ena ?aarif - "I know" (man speaking)
ena ?aarfa - "I know (Woman speaking)
Verbs will take a different ending depending solely on whether a man is speaking or a woman:
Я знал - 'I know' (man speaking)
Я знала - 'I know' (woman speaking)
This is phenomenon is not referring to "grammatical gender:"

e.g. French

la pomme

le lait

e.g. German
die Krawatte
das Mädchen
der Hund
Full transcript