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Ant test 2 notes These notes include key terms and a summary of the key concepts from the textbook and from the lectures

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Marcel Danesi

ANT 253: TEST #2 NOTES Chapter 5: Language and Social Phenomena There are several hundred different words for promiscuous female and only a handful for males this reflects that our society tends to see female sexual behaviour as less appropriate than similar male behaviour similar among societies Sexiest language reveals a particular type of group thinking Language is key to understanding social phenomena, such as gender roles, class distinctions and the like Difference in class and in types of relationship among speakers can be identified through language in particular in the way we address people, your boss (with a title Mr.) vs. your friend (no title used) Language mirrors all kinds of social phenomena age differences to group based identities Language is a social tool Language and Gender in many societies, men and women are expected to use different forms of speech in specific ways the words they use for the same thing (doublets), such as lifting, implies that the lifting of a men is different from the lifting of a women (different words for different abilities) the use of one or the other word according to the biological gender of the speaker is considered to be socially important in the language spoken in the Carib Island in the west indie, a large number of prescribed doublets ( pairs of words with the same meaning) are gender-coded: English Gloss Women say Men say Sun /kai/ /hueyu/ Rain /kuyu/ /kunobu/ gender-code variation is not only a matter of vocabulary differentiation but often of differences in grammar or style as well Gender-coded differences exist in English as well as other languages Cheris Kramer: noticed that in the 1970s the speech of American women was characterized by a softer done, fewer profanities and the use of tag questions (Dont you think?) Gender differences continue to be encoded in English as well as other languages In some societies, grammatical gender often mirrors perception of biological gender roles The word for general human being was a man or a male person the word actually meant person or human being which was equally applicable to both sexes Old English had separate words to distinguish the latter: wer meant adult male-- waepman meants adult male person which became male and wif meant adult female -- wifman meant adult female person which became women (wif turned into wife) Changes in the English language over the last decade have attempted to correct this male domains problem chairman to chairperson and freshman to first year student Biases still exist for instance waitress and bachelorette Markedness Theory The foregoing discussion makes it obvious that differences in social roles are often marked by differences in vocabulary and grammatical structure Markedness theory; the original idea of linguists was to distinguish the role played by linguistic structures within the language Example with /a/ and /an/ -- a is used before a morpheme and an is used before a vowel /an/ is classified as a marked b/c it is a exception, when the marked version is used in speech, area of grammatical gender, social repercussions tend to develop In Italian for instance, male forms of nouns are general and refer to all people, were at the female forms of noun refer specifically to females I turisti = all tourists (male) Le turiste = female tourists (female) The grammatical gender system of a language such as Italian is said to be marked sexually when it requires that male human beings be named with the masculine gender and females with the feminine gender The fact that the unmarked form in many languages is the masculine gender, as it was in English (man example) it is a cue that many societies are historically male-centred, that the en tended to be in charge of social processes (ex. surnaming patterns) In societies were female gender is the unmarked form, they tend to be in charge This suggests that grammatical structure mirrors social structure Linguistic activism: can we potentially change social structure by changing language structure? Yes, but will be rather difficult Titles to women are a Ms., Miss., or Mrs. Vs. male which is Mr. Language is adaptive to social changes in ways that would seem to defy the opinions of academic and social critics Language and style William Labov: William made tape recordings of New York City residents of different ethnic background and social classes. What stood out was the perception of /r/ after vowels in words like bird, tired, beer, and car. An /r/-less pronunciation of such words constituted a prestigious innovation in the 1800s modelled after British English, but this changed after World War I, being perceived as old- fashioned. Labov was able to link the pronunciation of /r/ in NYC to social mobility. The highest occurrence of the pronunciation of /r/ in young people was between 8 and 19. People that wanted to move to a higher social class took prestige in the way (style) they pronounced the /r/ Style: the way in which something is said or expressed He chose to ask people from Saks, Macys and S. Klein Labov found that the highest rates of pronunciation of the /r/ were highest at Saks, lower in Macys and the lowest in S. Klein. He concluded that workers identified with the prestige of their employers and customers and that this identification was mirrored in language pronunciation and use John Fischer Conducted another study which was similar in nature He interviewed a group of elementary schoolchildren and found that they often alternated between two pronunciations (reading vs. readin) The choice was related to the gender, social class, personality and mood of the speakers Girls that came from families with above average income and dominating or assertive, the children would use /-ing/ Children that came from more relaxed families tend to use /-in/ The mood and atmosphere play a significant role in speech Studies by Labov and Fischer bring out the fact that speakers of a language are sensitive both to the context in which a language is used and to its specific stylistic variants Active and passive sentences produce differential communicative effects Active sentences: used to emphasize the speaker as the actor in a direct relation with the goal (the person spoken to) Passive sentences: used to de-emphasize the speaker as actor and highlight the goal as the object of interest used for science reports The need for objectivity in scientific writing means that passive sentences will be used where the goal-object is highlighted over the subject-actor Rules of syntax turn out to be rules of style more often than not Consider the relation between style and humour Psychologist Best asked a group of college students what they thought when they heard a well- known comedian Some students were told to use five different adjectival concepts the comedians made them think of Best was able, as a result, to determine which comedians were most similar in style to one another In Danesi s and his students follow up study they found that the choice of description adjective in the original study was likely influenced in part by type and length of sentence used by the comedians as part of their style The way in which words are put together, the length of sentences, and the mode of sentence construction convey a certain feel to the humour that people seem to interpret in specific ways Follow up study by Danesis student on UofT professors to see if average word length correlated with the descriptions of them given by the Anti-calendar What was found was that the wordier the professor, the lower his rating in the Anti-calendar, perhaps he cant get his message across as easily Thus there seems to be a correlation between the linguistic style of people and how they are evaluated by others language and personality are intertwined in specific ways Plausible reaction between style and perceptions of personality When comparing the length of sentences by a comedian vs. a university professor you can see that the sentences are different in length Sentence length and style are features connected with job, lifestyle, and other social variables Naming People Language is both an inward, it has structural roots within the overall linguistic system, and outward roots, that is links a language to the outside world of reality Onomastics: The study of names A name identifies a person in relation to other persons; It is a product of historical forces that connect a human being to a specific social and cultural tradition This is why the use of numerical identification of prisoners and slaves is, in effect, a negation of their humanity and ultimately their existence In Western culture, name-giving is a largely unregulated process, but even in the West, it is shaped by several customs and trends Most common names given come from Hebrew, Greek, Latin or Teutonic languages Hebrew names have t
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