Class Notes (809,200)
Canada (493,575)
Linguistics (436)
LINA02H3 (55)
Lecture 8


82 Pages
Unlock Document

University of Toronto Scarborough
Chandan Narayan

• Last week we looked at social factors that apply to entire regional groups: isolation and contact. • While it is traditional for speech communities to be identified regionally, they can in fact be identified according to different criteria. For example: – social networks – gender – class – age – ethnicity • When these criteria are taken into consideration, every regional community can be seen as being heterogeneous, consisting of multiple sub-varieties. • “…where there are social distinctions, we can expect to find them reflected in linguistic distinctions.” (p.457) • The study of the connection between social differences and linguistic differences is known as variationist sociolinguistics. • An important methodological tool in this work is the identification of sociolinguistic variables: alternative ways of saying the same thing. • e.g. brother, brudder, bruvver, bro’er • Each possible realization is a variant of the variable (‘th’) • Relation between variables and variants is analagous to relation between phonemes and allophones. • Just as phonologists study the contexts and rules that determine the choice of allophone, variationists study the factors that underlie the choice of variants. These factors include linguistic factors e.g. position of ‘th’ in a word social factors e.g. speaker’s age • Unlike phonological rules, which are usually assumed to be categorical, the factors governing variants are probabilistic (i.e. more or less likely to apply) • Variation can involve features at all levels of grammar: – phonetic – phonological – morphological – syntactic – lexicals Phonetic variation • In some New York City dialects, alveolar consonants are produced with contact between the tongue tip and the upper teeth (i.e. they are dento-alveolar), while in standard dialects, the alveolars are not dental. (Gerfen 2002) • This is phonetic variation: at the phonemic level, there is really no difference between NY English and standard English. Both have the exact same set of alveolar consonant PHONEMES. Phonological variation • In some dialects of American English there is a difference between the vowel in the word "caught" and the vowel in the word "cot”: these are a minimal pair. In other dialects difference has been neutralized, i.e. lost. (Gerfen 2002) • This is phonemic variation: these dialects differ in terms of their underlying phonemic inventory. Morphological variation • In northern England and Southern Wales, the -s suffix is used as a general present tense marker. In many other dialects of English, -s is reserved for marking the present tense in third person singular forms only. (Gerfen 2002) – I likes him. – We walks all the time. • Appalachian English has a number of past tense forms that are non-standard. "Et" for "ate", "hEt" for "heated". These are all examples of morphological variation. (Gerfen 2002) Syntactic variation • In the U.S., some southern dialects use the word "done" used as (perfect) auxiliary, as in "she done already told you" or "I done finished a while ago." In standard American English, this isn't the case. (Gerfen 2002) • Double modals (combinations of auxiliaries) are also common across parts of the South: "I might could do it" or "They useta could do it" or "He might would if you asked him nice enough." (Gerfen 2002) Lexical variation • Lexical items can differ in their meanings across dialects. • In some cases, different lexical items are used to express the same meaning (e.g. couch vs. sofa vs. chesterfield) • In other cases, the same lexical items (or expressions) can have different meanings (e.g. dresser refers to a kitchen cupboard in British English, but to bedroom furniture for storing clothes in North American English; to knock somebody up means to get them pregnant in North American English, but to wake them up in British English). Social network • A general factor that has been used to explain patterns of variation: the cluster of social relationships an individual has (family, friends, neighbourhood, employment, religious affiliations, etc.). • The study of these clusters is called social network analysis. • The basic idea: the more often you talk to a certain group, the more likely you are to share the same speech patterns. • Speakers are given individual network scores based on the kinds of ties they have and the density of the networks they’re involved in. • A dense network is one in which there are a a large number of interconnected speakers. • This is in contrast with multiplex networks, which are those where relationships are formed with several clusters or kinds of relationships (so there is less interconnectedness in the group). • Dense social networks enforce community norms. • Speakers most closely integrated into a dense network show the highest rates of use of the variants associated with that network. • Speakers least integrated into the network are the most likely to introduce new forms. • Linguistic behaviour in dense networks is constrained in much the same way that other kinds of behaviour are constrained in closely-knit communities. Gender • Gender is one of the most widely reported factors in linguistic variation. • Both cross-linguistically and cross- culturally, the speech of men and women tends to differ. • In some cases these differences are subtle and speakers may be unaware of them (e.g English), but research shows differences in, for example, rates of usage of certain terms (e.g. women>colour terms, men>sports terms) and also variable usage of certain grammatical forms. • Such differences involve rates of use of shared forms, rather than differences in the forms themselves. • In other cases the differences are lexicalized/grammaticalized. • Gros Ventre (Montana): women pronounce some words differently from men. • Koasati (Louisiana): verb forms differ depending on sex of speaker (table slide) • Japanese • In speech communities where gender differences are strongly encoded in the language, one usually encounters gender-exclusivity: strong social prohibitions against using forms associated with the opposite sex. • Some frequently made observations: – (1) When variation is stable (no change in progress), men use more non-standard forms than women. (And they also claim to use even more of them than they actually do). • covert prestige (e.g. ‘street cred’) – (2) When there is a change in progress, women use more of the novel forms than men. This is especially true with change ‘from above’. • linguistic insecurity? • differences may simply reflect different gender expectations regarding toughness, etc. Also, women more often do jobs that require standard speech (e.g. teachers). • Women have been observed to use more prestige variants than men. There are a number theories as to why. – theory 1: the difference results from differences in social network density. – theory 2: attributes this to women’s role as child caregivers. Small children are more likely to hear innovative forms from women than from men, so the change happens because it is transmitted to the novel generation. • Preconceptions about gender roles have often coloured claims that are made about language and gender. • For example, it has been claimed in the past that women are more likely than men to use verbal hedges (e.g. perhaps, you know, sort of…) • This was claimed to reflect unassertiveness of women • But a study of you know showed that it has more than one use, and these are differentiated by intonation patterns. – rising intonation you knów: uncertainty (11a) – falling intonation you knòw: confidence (11b) • The study found that women are more likely than men to use you know to express confidence. • The relationship between language and gender is complex. • Some consider gender to be an independent dimension along which speech varieties can vary. • Others consider gender differences to simply be a special case of the more general sensitivity to social power. Class • Speech varieties that are strongly associated with a particular socioeconomic class provide a valuable window on both variation and social structure (and mobility). • In many communities, certain variants are more closely associated with upper classes, and these carry prestige. – e.g. these things vs. dem tings • Upper classes, in turn, often adopt norms associated with prestige dialects from outside the community, e.g. features of British English in Canadian English, or European French in Quebecois French. • It isn’t straightforward to assign individuals to a particular class. It certainly isn’t as simple as knowing a person’s income. • Other factors: – education, housing, occupational prestige, family background, etc. – occupational prestige has been found to be one of the most significant indicators of class • Labov’s famous fourth floor study:
More Less

Related notes for LINA02H3

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.