Sociolinguistics Exam 1:)
purpose or characteristic.
communication shared by a group of people.
– Characterized by “grammar” = knowledge of language
production, and also…
based on a very short amount of speech
– Perception also connects to attitudes a person has to the speech characteristics of others
– Where from (in US): New York, South, Midwest…
– Age: teenager, middle age, senior…
– Gender: male, female, gay…
– Education: minimal, average, advanced…
– SES: working class, middle class, wealthy…
– Profession: use of jargon or special terms
– descriptive vs. prescriptive (no) study of language
– E-Language = external language (performance and all the variability that is present in the context)
– As linguists, we approach both from the descriptive perspective.
– (plain) competence = grammar
– communicative competence = how to USE
language appropriately in a social context
– most influential scholar in modern sociolinguistics
– “[T]he linguistic behavior of individuals cannot be understood without knowledge of the communities that they belong to.”
– A language (e.g., English) could be considered a code, but sociolinguistics is interested in more specific language use.
– Sociolinguistics is interested in “subsets” of a language.
– Code refers to a particular usage of a Language.
– Bilinguals have two codes at language level, so two codes in the general sense
– Switching between languages / codes = code
– Code-switching – requires mutual intelligibility of the speakers in the group
+ obvious case – when two different languages are languages involved (e.g., Spanish / English in US; French / English in Canada)
– All of the speakers understand the communication regardless of which language is used.
– The speakers identify themselves with a group that exhibits this type of linguistic behavior.
– Since linguistic behavior associated with a particular identity = Code the Code-Switching behavior can be a code of its own.
+ Individual answers in homework assignment
– Is this a code?
– NO: a code needs 2 or more people
– Dialects in homework: “heat” maps showing
prevalence of each speech property throughout the US.
+ When there are many speakers with the same speech properties, the set of these properties may be considered a dialect.
• specific properties
• distribution of individual properties
• distribution of groups of properties
– Bundle of Isoglosses: overlapping lines at the border between different usages of multiple property
– E.g., regional dialects à more subtle usage patterns
– Variation in sociolinguistics
+ differences in the way a person speaks
+ differences between the speech of different people
– Focus is on social factors that determine differences
+ who you are speaking to
+ type of communication
+ personal traits: gender, age, education, SES, etc.
+ other aspects of the situation
+ Contrast with more theoretical aspects of linguistics, where variation is mostly passed over, looking for broad generalizations about language structures.
– As text discusses, there have been different
approaches / answers to the question.
+ Answer depends largely on the goals you are interested in.
+ –> RESEARCH
“Data collected for the sake of collecting data are of little interest
– … without some kind of non-trivial motive for collection – they can tell us little or nothing.
– A set of random observations about a few people we happen to observe… cannot lead us to any useful generalizations about behavior, either social or linguistic.
– We cannot be content with ‘stamp collecting,’ no matter how beautiful the specimens are.
– We must collect data for a purpose and that purpose should be to find an answer… to an interesting question.”
+ We know that there is a particular pronunciation of “water” in Philadelphia, so we want to determine if the region in which this pronunciation is used, extends to DE.
+ Given that there are many differences in the speech of Northern and Southern Delaware, we want to determine if “water” is a word that shows this dialectal split.
Does my grandmother say “car” with or without [r] at the end?
– I observe that my grandmother says “car” without [r] at the end, so I
want to determine …
+ if this is typical of other people of her generation.
+ if females and males of her generation show the same absence of [r]
+ if people / females of my generation show the absence of [r] as my grandmother
– What is a dialect?
+ variety of a language – also a communication system (code)
– What is an accent?
+ variety of a language – that primarily differs from another at the phonological / phonetic level
+ can an accent also be a code?
used to determine if something is an accent or dialect?
– BUT all of the varieties have their own characteristics
– American English does not have a legal body or organization that sets out the practices that constitute “Standard American English”.
– Dialects: Tangier Island, PA Dutch, New Orleans/ Cajun
– if it’s a different dialect / accent, do you work to change it to be more similar to “Standard English”?
– communication system (code)
What is a dialect
– variety of a language – also a communication system (code)
How do we know when we have a variety of a
language (Dialect) or a distinct language?
– mutual intelligibility
– number of speakers
– ethnicity of speakers
– geographical location
“A language is a dialect with an army and a navy”
– agreement on characteristics
– codification of characteristics
– can be taught explicitly
– usually associated with such social considerations as: prestige, “correctness”, education, power…
What is a non-standard variety?
– Any variety that is not the standard variety.
– Sometimes non-standard varieties are called dialects.
– Is non-standard the same as sub-standard?
§ Dialect is a code
§ Standard is code spoken by people who identify themselves with a group who speak in that particular way
§ As a dialect, Standard does not necessarily coincide with any particular regional location.
§ BUT, sometimes the variety of a particular region comes to be considered Standard.
– Who wants to sound like a newscaster?
– People intentionally reinforce group speech patterns to solidify the group itself.
– “Home” language as opposed to “higher” standard language.
– Linguists would call this a dialect, but “vernacular” also carries additional information about its usage:
+ where, when the speech variety is used
Latin vs. Romance Languages
– Romance languages originated as dialects of latin.
– In Catholic Church, masses were held in Latin.
+ Recent change to use “vernacular” = Italian, Spanish, English?
+ Grammatically the same language
+ Some different vocabulary items
Croatian: Latin alphabet, Catholic
Serbian: Cyrillic alphabet, Orthodox
Swedish, Danish, Norwegian
– N, S similar pronunciation; larger vocabulary differences.
– N, D different pronuciation; more similar vocabulary
– Best intelligibility: N, S
– Danes claim to understand Norwegians; not vice versa
– Worst intelligibility: D, S
– Denmark dominated Norway
– Today, Sweden is most powerful; Denmark least powerful
– Community is a group of people with something in common
– Do all groups have an associated Speech
+ NOT necessarily; not all aspects of identity result in distinctive speech patterns
– language of a group brought together by special interest (or work)
What are some examples?
– professions, trades, fashion, mechanics, air traffic controllers, doctors, linguists, SLP practitioners, etc.
Do you think all of these groups speak a
– most differences in terms of terminology
– what about other aspects of grammar, manner of speaking?
– When an outsider is present in a group, the behavior of the group will be altered by that presence.
– So, the description provided by the observer will have some degree of inaccuracy
– Some relatively simple examples (p. 130)
– loose: most members in your network don’t interact with each other
+ e.g., students in a school / same church / same summer camp
– is this dense or loose?
– some might, but others might not
– back to issue of personal identification
– speech properties used to join a group; also to stay distinct from other groups
– many smaller groups may not choose to distinguish themselves from some larger group (e.g., N / S DE)
+ students in each school may not speak differently from students in every other school
– How does the concept of register fit in here?
+ each of the codes a person uses for communication with different groups = that person’s registers
– Standard / Non-Standard (vs. sub-standard- value judgement implied)
– vs.: Dialect / Accent / Register / Idiolect
– mutual intelligibility
– role of power
– role of politics
Code-switching vs. Using Different Languages
– in bilingual community
– code-switching behavior may be its own code
NOT same as personally alternating / shifting
from one dialect, register, even language to
another under specific circumstances
– reduced language usually used for a specific purpose (e.g., trade)
– lacks many properties found in natural human languages
– just enough to accomplish what needs to be accomplished
Creole – Pidgin that has become first language of a
– has all the properties found in natural human languages
– created by innovations that are due to basic human cognition / universal human linguistic competence
– often grammatical structure from 1 language, vocabulary
from the other
– Hausa (West Africa)
– Swahili (East Africa)
– Latin (former Roman Empire)
– But the vocabulary has subtanial “Latinate” component (possibly up to 60%)
– How did this happen?
+ Norman invasion of England (1066)
+ Warriors brought their French language
+ Many remained in England and their vocabulary had heavy influence on the local speech
+ Many cases of “doublets”: similar word in Germanic and French forms (French usually “fancier” meaning)
§ beef (Fr. boeuf) vs. cow’s meat
§ mansion (Fr. maison) vs. house
– YOU as research can vary them (e.g., select age, gender, SES, geograpical or social setting, etc.)
– SUBJECT data can vary (e.g., behavior: how often do subjects interrupt, drop final r, use creaky voice, etc; OR attitude: how positively / negatively do they respond to a type of speech (determined by specific questions) etc.
– E.g., behavior of speaker of higher SES interaction with same vs. lower SES (compare a specific property
+ e.g., how often interruptions take place)
– We will NOT investigate issues we cannot quantify, e.g., Danes understand Norwegians but not vice
versa due to historical relations between the nations.
– BUT not just random recordings – you need to be looking for clear properties to address your question
– different social groups (e.g. ages, genders, education, interactions)
BOTH of speakers and responders if attitudes / interactions.
– specific linguistic properties (e.g., use of double negatives, contrast between cot / caught) – why these?
– specific behaviors (e.g., interruptions, class participation) – again, why these?
– geographical (earlier focus)
– social (more current focus)
Understanding variation may help explain language change
– geographical: migrations of populations
– social – changes in the direction of prestige or some other category
Over time, small changes may eventually lead to different languages (e.g. Romance lgs.)
– Dialect Atlas
– Isogloss / Bundle of Isoglosses
– Dialect Boundary (usually bundle of isoglosses)
– BUT – bundles may have inconsistencies, so always a bit fuzzy
– Dialect Boundary – often strengthened by geographical boundary
– identify crucial property/properties (= variable/s)
– investigate alternation / distribution of specific variable/s
+ geographical location
+ usage by different segments of population
+ changes in distribution:
§ movement / expansion
§ reduction, loss
§ association with different segments of population
– investigate attitude to specific variables
– BUT NOTE: these might be exactly the type of factors that could determine changes in geographical patterns
– most wide-spread variable of English (world-wide) alternation between [ŋ] and [n] e.g., going with [ŋ] or [n]
not usually recognized by the non-linguist
§ e.g. most people don’t recognize difference
between speakers with cot/caught same or different
somewhat present in someone’s speech, it’s felt by others to be the way the person speaks
§ e.g. even if somone uses both [ŋ] and [n], it’s the [n] form that stands out; this “marks” the speaker
§ very conscious awareness
§ may not even be completely accurate
§ e.g., Boston: park the car [pɑk ðə kɑ]
§ e.g., Texas drawl: Howdy partner.
§ often stigmatized
§ BUT to some extent this depends on your view of
the group the variable is associated wit
– Can you tell people to “be natural” – why, why not?
– Create situations where people are less likely to
– Labov used several creative ideas; still used
+ ask for repetition; several times might be useful
+ ask about particularly emotional topic (e.g., when speaker was in life-threatening situation)
– random sample
– judgement sample
– you need to be sure you have a good mix if you want to draw conclusions about the group of speakers
– e.g., if you want to talk about all UD students, would it be ok to have 20 SLP students? Why / why not?
– researcher selects people based on specific criteria NOT just “I think they sound like…”
– the specific criteria depend on what you are looking for
§ gender differences (age might not matter)
§ age differences (gender might not matter)
– results are about the specific groups (e.g., 20 yr olds vs. 40 yr olds)
– These need to be explicit and clear
+ certain amount of /r/ dropping (you need to measure this)
+ specific characteristics that mark a southern accent (e.g., use of specific vowels)
+ use of particular intonation patterns (gay male)
– do people identify themselves by number of miles from a given location?
– does X miles have the same linguistic value at all
– Just give general idea, for example:
+ how different people listen to recorded speech
+ how different people read sentences
– Be sure to tell everyone the same thing
– Be sure to tell everyone that there are no RIGHT or WRONG answers – it’s just to see how people do with listening / reading / etc.
you want to know their patterns, AND you suspect they will
have different patterns (otherwise there’s probably nothing to
+ e.g., males, females, UD students
+ e.g., 20 yr old, 40 yr old females at UD
– e.g., use of final /r/; use of “gay intonation”; # of interruptions
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