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Chapter 3

Anthropology 2245F/G Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Lower East Side, Leonard Bloomfield, William Labov

Course Code
ANTH 2245F/G
Regna Darnell

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Week 3 Reading
Chapter 5: Communities of Language Users
Many ling. Anthros agree that a group of people who are set apart socially will probably
be set apart linguistically as well and vice versa
It is very tricky to define “speech community”
o Size and location?
o What is shared by members?
o What type of interactions do they have?
De Saussure: “In order to have a language, there must be a community of speakers”
o Believes the changes that languages undergo are the product of social forces
Chomsky: acknowledged ideal individual in a “speech-community” does not exist
Concept of speech community was initially defined by de Saussure and Leonard
Bloomfield in the first part of the twentieth century
Gumperz’s definition of speech community:
o Frequent interaction among members must occur
o Members must share a “verbal repertoire”, even though they may nt all speak
the same style, dialect or even language
o Members must share a set of social norms regarding appropriate language use
(language ideologies)
William Labov:
o Language ideologies are also a central component of his definition
o 1960 linguistic variation study in Lower East Side of NYC concluded that the
heterogenous nature of that community was not at all unusual or problematic
They did not pronounce -ing or “r” the same way but evaluated speech in
the same ways, as stigmatized or high status
This therefore created a single speech community
Sociolinguistics Otto Santa Ana and Claudia Parodi
o Recorded 50 hours of data from 35 Spanish speakers
o Also asked them to compare formal and informal love letters to elicit their
judgements on matters of style
o Looked for the sorts of variation Labov had found and a shared set of norms but
could find no evident of a “set of shared norms” like Labov found in NYC
o Proposed a model of nested speech-community configurations
Individuals not aware of existence of stigmatized, regional, or
standardized national variants
Aware of stigmatized but not regional or standardized
Aware of stigmatized and regional but not standardized national forms
Aware of all forms
Debra Spitulnik
o Studied radio discourse in Zambia, a society where many languages are spoken
o Argued radio programs in Zambia provides common reference points for people
in their everyday conversations
Mary bucholtz believed speech community is inadequate due to:
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