Chapter 14.docx

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26 Apr 2012

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Chapter 14 Language in social contexts
speech community a group of people who share social conventions or sociological norms
about language use
salient = noticeable, particular social meaning markers
indicators other features associated with particular social characteristics
mutual intelligibility criterion that linguistics use to determine whether people are speaking
‘the same language’ or not
systematic differences in speech reflect different dialects ‘non-standard’ subsets of the same
standard the language taught in school, used in formal writing
variety avoids the naming problem as a value-neutral term for any subset of language
slang non-standard varieties
accent pronunciation
14.1 Language variation and social distinctions
variationist sociolinguistics: branch of linguistics that tries to measure and explain the
connection between social and linguistic distinctions
o central to this practice is the concept of structured variation
o variable the thing with several possible realizations (e.g. brother, brudder)
phoneme/underlying representation
each possible realization (interdental fricative, stop, labiodental, etc.) is called a
variant allophones/surface realizations
depends on linguistic factors such as position in the word, voicing, etc.
phonetic environments
o rules are categorical (applied every time)
o ‘rules’ or constraints are usually probabilistic (more or less likely to apply)
o social factors: variation within individual speakers intra-speaker variation
o how speech varies according to speakers’ social characteristics inter-speaker
Method: variationist sociolinguistics
1) Find the speech community ‘informants/consultants’ = people from the speech
community who are willing to be recorded
2) Collect data sociolinguistic interviews; questions that encourage informants to forget
they are being recorded
3) Analyze the data collected variables that are gradient have a range of values
14.2 Place
dialectology the study of regional differences in language
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NORMS (non-mobile older rural males) those believed to have retained the most traditional
Method: dialect geography
1) Find the speakers in a region with the least outside influence
2) With each speaker, run through a questionnaire of lexical features known to show
regional differentiation (e.g. running shoes vs. sneakers)
3) Record each speaker’s responses
4) Tabulate the results from lots of questionnaires isoglosses: boundary lines when
using a term or variant
5) Use accumulated data to propose dialect areas and boundaries isogloss bundle: a lot
of isoglosses found in the same place
dialect levelling process of mixing speech patterns, in which the uncommon or distinct
features of settler dialects were worn down over time
Canadian English
o in many ways resembles that of the United States
o Canadian lexical features
some Canadian words inherited from Britain or distinct to Canada
tap vs. faucet
Canadian “z” vs. American “z”
split down between British and American pronunciations
o Pronunciation
Canadian Raising
different pronunciations for the /aw/ and /aj/ diphthong
in all words where the diphthong comes before a voiceless sound, the
nucleus is raised
Americans hear this as [u]
o Morphology and syntax
any national syntactic differences that remain to be discovered are probably in
terms of frequency of use of forms, not absolute use or avoidance
being between British and American, both She has already gone and She just left
are accepted
English speakers in the Maritimes have a monophthongal and ‘backed’
pronunciation of /aj/
space reinforces other social distinctions you speak like who you speak to
14.3 Time
apparent time hypothesis you can ‘see’ change happening by looking at the
differences between old and young speakers
merged moving two separate phonemes toward pronouncing them the same
(e.g. whale and wail)
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