Varieties of English Essay

essay A+
  • Words: 1175
  • Category: APA

  • Pages: 5

Get Full Essay

Get access to this section to get all the help you need with your essay and educational goals.

Get Access

In sociolinguistics a variety, also called a lect, is a specific form of a language. This term may include languages, dialects, accents, registers, styles or other sociolinguistic variation, as well as the standard variety itself. The term dialect will be mentioned in this research paper. The term refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language’s speakers. .(Oxford English dictionary) The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors, such as social class.

A dialect that is associated with a particular social class can be termed a sociolect, with a particular ethnic group can be termed as ethnolect, and a regional dialect may be termed a regiolect or topolect. This paper will include only regional dialects. Acording Chambers and Trudgill dialects can be regarded as subdivisions of a particular language. (Chambers and Trudgill 1998: 3) A dialect is distinguished by its vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation (phonology, including prosody). Where a distinction can be made only in terms of pronunciation (including prosody, or just prosody itself), the term accent is appropriate, not dialect.

The distinction between language and dialect presents us a number of dificulties. (Chambers and Trudgill 1998). One way to distinguish these terms is to consider language as a collection of mutually intelligible dialects. This definition has the benefit of characterising dialects as subparts of a language. This characterisation of language and dialect, however, is not entirely successful, and it is relatively simple to think of two types of aparent counterexample.

If we consider, first, the Scandinavian languages, we observe that Norvegian, Swedish and Danish are usually considered to be different languages. Unfortunately for our definition, though, they are mutually intelligible. That means that speakers of these three languages can readily understand and communicate with one another. There are many parts of the world where we notice linguistic differences which distinguish one village from another. Sometimes these differences wil be larger, sometimes smaller, but they will be cumulative.

The further we get from our starting point, the larger the differences will become. To start with, we should clear out geographical expansion of the English Language. English spread out quickly from the 17th to 19th century outside British isles. (Rastorguyeva 1983:181). In the last three hundred years the English language has extended to all the continents of the world and the number of English speakers has multiplied. The number of English speaking people grew: at the end of the 11th century it is estimated at one and half or two millions; by 1700 English had over eight million speakers.

In the course of two centuries of British expansion overseas, colonisation and emigration to other continents, the number of English speakers increased at such a high rate that by 1900 it had reached one hundred and twenty three million. In the 18th century the English penetrated into India and it came under English power. (Ilyish 1972:238) In this huge territory, which since 1947 is divided between two states, India and Pakistan, English has not, however ousted the local language. Its sphere is limited to large cities and to a certain social layer.

In the course of the Seven Years‘ War (1756-1763) the English conquered Canada, which had been a French colony. A few decades later English settlers appeared in Australia. During the 19th century the whole of Australia, and also New Zealand and many islands in Oceania were colonized. In the early years of the 20th century the English penetrated into South Africa. In all of these territories the English language had to compete with other colonizers‘ languages and with those of the local populations. In some cases a compromise was the result. Thus, in Canada English did not entirely supersede French.

The French Canadian dialect, which shows a strong influence of English, is still used in several regions of Canada. In the Republic of South Africa the Dutch dialect, called Afrikaans, has survived and enjoys equal rights with English. According to data published in 1964, there are about 270,000,000 English speakers on the globe, including 195,000,000 in the United States, 54,000,000 in the British Isles, 8,000,000 in Canada, and 11,000,000 in Australia. England‘s colonial expansion to America began in the late 16th century when her first colonies were set up in Newfounland.

But the real start came later: in 1607 the first permanent settlements were founded in Jamestown and in 1620 the famous ship ‘‘May-flower‘‘ brought a group of English settlers to what became known as New England. These Puritan fugitives from the Stuart absolutism came from the London area, from East Anglia and Yorkshire; later colonists came from other regions, including Scotland and Ireland. The colonists spoke different dialects of English.

In North America those dialects gradually blended into a new type of the language, American English; contacts with other languages, especially Spanish in the South and French in Canada, have played a certain role in its development. Main dialects of the United States are those that I want to explore in more detailed way. Within the Northen, Midland, and Southern areas, at least six regional dialects in the eastern half of the country are prominent enough to justify individual characterization. The first is Eastern New England that includes the whole or parts of states that lie to the east of the Connecticut River in Massachusetts and Conecticut and east of the Green Mountains in Vermont (Crystal or .. , :371).

While all features of the dialect are not uniform in their distribution, we may recognize as characteristic the retention of a rounded vowel in words like hot and top, which the rest of the country has unrounded to a shortened form of the a in father; the use of the broad a in fast, path, grass, etc. ; and, as we have seen, the loss of r in car, hard, etc. , except before vowels (carry, Tory). One of the more famous American accents, the classic “New Yorkese” has been immortalized by films TV shows and plays.

Although often considered a part of the Eastern New England, the speech of New York City is on the whole quite different. Prominent features of this dialect are these. The first non-rhoticity that means not pronouncing the written letter “r” unless it is followed by a vowel. The second is tense-lax split: this is a bit hard to explain. In New York City the short-a in words like cat, mad, can’t and last follows a complex set of rules whereby some words are pronounced tensely (slightly higher in the mouth) while other words are pronounced laxly (lower in the mouth).

The fird feature is the long-a in words like father and cart is often pronounced back and sometimes rounded: i. e. IPA f? :?? and k? :t (“fawthuh” and “kawt”). The last distinguishable feature is that vowel in words like thought, north and dog are pronounced is high and diphthongized, pronounced IPA ??? t, n??? , and d?? g (“thaw-uht,” “naw-uht” and “daw-uhg”). The broadest and main classification of dialects is division of English by hemisphere (Oxford English dictionary 2010:98), that is northern or southern half of the earth.

Get instant access to
all materials

Become a Member