Linguistic Marketplace

Background of the study

            Sociolinguistics is the study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used[1]. Sociolinguistics differs from sociology of language in that the focus of sociolinguistics is the effect of the society on the language, while the latter’s focus is on the language’s effect on the society (linguistics marketplace). Sociolinguistics overlaps to a considerable degree with pragmatics. It is historically closely related to Linguistic Anthropologyand the distinction between the two fields has even been questioned recently.

It also studies how language varieties differ between groups separated by certainsocial variables, e.g., ethnicityreligionstatusgender, level of educationage, etc., and how creation and adherence to these rules is used to categorize individuals in social or socioeconomic classes. As the usage of a language varies from place to place (dialect), language usage varies among social classes, and it is these sociolects that sociolinguistics studies.

The social aspects of language were in the modern sense first studied by Indian and Japanese linguists in the 1930s, and also by Gauchat in Switzerland in the early 1900s, but none received much attention in the West until much later. The study of the social motivation of language change, on the other hand, has its foundation in the wave model of the late 19th century. The first attested use of the term sociolinguistics was by Thomas Callan Hodson in the title of a 1939 paper. Sociolinguistics in the West first appeared in the 1960s and was pioneered by linguists such as William Labov in the US and Basil Bernstein in the UK[2].

In this papers will be analyze more detail or more specifict about Linguistics Marketplace. What is the definition of linguistics marketplace itself.

Explanation

            In sociolinguistics, the linguistic marketplace refers to the theory that the value of a speaker’s choice of language depends on his or her role in society. Sociolinguist J.K. Chambers has written that listeners place more value on the language of “professionals of language,” such as teachers, authors, and lawyers, than they do on that of chemists or engineers[3]. They similarly place more value on “technicians of language,” like actors and secretaries, because these jobs require more interaction with other people and greater proficiency with words.

The need to find employment strongly influences the spoken language, Chambers wrote, usually pushing the speaker towards a standardized tongue or the most prestigious one used in the area. When a lower value is placed on language in occupations requiring little need to talk with others, that push towards standardization does not occur. The linguistic marketplace also plays a significant role in the ways that the speech of women and men differ, as well as that of various age levels.

Language as Social Behavior, Language is one of the most powerful emblems of social behavior. In the normal transfer of information through language, we use language to send vital social messages about who we are, where we come from, and who we associate with. It is often shocking to realize how extensively we may judge a person’s background, character, and intentions based simply upon the person’s language, dialect, or, in some instances, even the choice of a single word.

Given the social role of language, it stands to reason that one strand of language study should concentrate on the role of language in society. Sociolinguistics has become an increasingly important and popular field of study, as certain cultures around the world expand their communication base and intergroup and interpersonal relations take on escalating significance.

The basic notion underlying sociolinguistics is quite simple: Language use symbolically represents fundamental dimensions of social behavior and human interaction. The notion is simple, but the ways in which language reflects behavior can often be complex and subtle. Furthermore, the relationship between language and society affects a wide range of encounters–from broadly based international relations to narrowly defined interpersonal relationships.

For example, sociolinguists might investigate language attitudes among large populations on a national level, such as those exhibited in the US with respect to the English-only amendment–the legislative proposal to make English the ‘official’ language of the US. Similarly, we might study the status of French and English in Canada or the status of national and vernacular languages in the developing nations of the world as symbols of fundamental social relations among cultures and nationalities. In considering language as a social institution, sociolinguists often use sociological techniques involving data from questionnaires and summary statistical data, along with information from direct observation.

A slightly different concern with language and society focuses more closely on the effect of particular kinds of social situations on language structure. For example, language contact studies focus on the origin and the linguistic composition of pidgin and creole languages. These special language varieties arise when speakers from mutually unintelligible language groups need a common language for communication. Throughout the world, there are many sociohistorical situations that have resulted in these specialized language situations–in the Caribbean, Africa, South America, Asia, and the Pacific Islands. In examining language contact situations, it is also possible to examine not only the details of a particular language but also the social and linguistic details that show how bilingual speakers use each language and switch between them[4].

Another approach to language and society focuses on the situations and uses of language as an activity in its own right. The study of language in its social context tells us quite a bit about how we organize our social relationships within a particular community. Addressing a person as ‘Mrs.’, ‘Ms.’, or by a first name is not really about simple vocabulary choice but about the relationship and social position of the speaker and addressee. Similarly, the use of sentence alternatives such as Pass the saltWould you mind passing the salt, or I think this food could use a little salt is not a matter of simple sentence structure; the choice involves cultural values and norms of politeness, deference, and status

In approaching language as a social activity, it is possible to focus on discovering the specific patterns or social rules for conducting conversation and discourse. We may, for example, describe the rules for opening and closing a conversation, how to take conversational turns, or how to tell a story or joke.

It is also possible to examine how people manage their language in relation to their cultural backgrounds and their goals of interaction. Sociolinguists might investigate questions such as how mixed-gender conversations differ from single-gender conversations, how differential power relations manifest themselves in language forms, how caregivers let children know the ways in which language should be used, or how language change occurs and spreads to communities. To answer these questions related to language as social activity, sociolinguists often use ethnographic methods. That is, they attempt to gain an understanding of the values and viewpoints of a community in order to explain the behaviors and attitudes of its members.

Two trends have characterized the development of sociolinguistics over the past several decades. First, the rise of particular specializations within this field has coincided with the emergence of more broadly based social and political issues. Thus, the focus on themes such as language and nationalism, language and ethnicity, and language and gender has corresponded with the rise of related issues in society at large. Second, specialists who examine the role of language and society have become more and more interested in applying the results of their studies to the broadly based social, educational, and political problems that probably gave rise to their emergence as sociolinguistic themes to begin with. Sociolinguistics thus offers a unique opportunity to bring together theory, description, and application in the study of language.

As a marketer, in most cases you can not shape public opinion or create a profitable economy of scale unless you understand how words are used in a manipulative manner to shape opinion to create profit for external antimarket institutions. Looking through economic history and the history of linguistics enables you to realize opportunities when others are not being honest or consistent in their policies, and it helps you form an argument which enables you to sound logical and reasonable while reframing the debate at an appropriate time.

 

1. Applications of sociolinguistics

            Sociolinguistics topics; General Accent Generative linguistics Cognitive linguistics Computational, linguistics Descriptive linguistics Linguistic pragmatics Unsolved problems in linguistics History History of linguistics Historical linguistics People List of linguists.

For example, a sociolinguist might determine through study of social attitudes that a particular vernacular would not be considered appropriate language use in a business or professional setting. Sociolinguists might also study the grammar,phoneticsvocabulary, and other aspects of this sociolect much as dialectologistswould study the same for a regional dialect.

The study of language variation is concerned with social constraints determining language in its contextual environmentCode-switching is the term given to the use of different varieties of language in different social situations. William Labov is often regarded as the founder of the study of sociolinguistics. He is especially noted for introducing the quantitative study of language variation and change, [3] making the sociology of language into a scientific discipline.

2. Sociolinguistic variables

Studies in the field of sociolinguistics typically take a sample population and interview them, assessing the realisation of certain sociolinguistic variables. Labov specifies the ideal sociolinguistic variable to

  • be high in frequency,
  • have a certain immunity from conscious suppression,
  • be an integral part of larger structures, and
  • be easily quantified on a linear scale.

Phonetic variables tend to meet these criteria and are often used, as are grammatical variables and, more rarely, lexical variables. Examples for phonetic variables are: the frequency of the glottal stop, the height or backness of a vowelor the realisation of word-endings. An example of a grammatical variable is the frequency of negative concord (known colloquially as a double negative).

3. Traditional sociolinguistic interview

            Sociolinguistic interviews are an integral part of collecting data for sociolinguistic studies. There is an interviewer, who is conducting the study, and a subject, orinformant, who is the interviewee. In order to get a grasp on a specific linguistic form and how it is used in the dialect of the subject, a variety of methods are used to elicit certain registers of speech. There are five different styles, ranging from formal to casual.

The most formal style would be elicited by having the subject read a list of minimal pairs (MP). Minimal pairs are pairs of words that differ in only one phoneme, such as cat and bat. Having the subject read a word list (WL) will elicit a formal register, but generally not as formal as MP. The reading passage (RP) style is next down on the formal register, and the interview style (IS) is when an interviewer can finally get into eliciting a more casual speech from the subject.

During the IS the interviewer can converse with the subject and try to draw out of him an even more casual sort of speech by asking him to recall childhood memories or maybe a near death experience, in which case the subject will get deeply involved with the story since strong emotions are often attached to these memories. Of course, the most sought after type of speech is the casual style (CS). This type of speech is difficult if not impossible to elicit because of theObserver’s Paradox. The closest one might come to CS in an interview is when the subject is interrupted by a close friend or family member, or perhaps must answer the phone. CS is used in a completely unmonitored environment where the subject feels most comfortable and will use their natural vernacular without overtly thinking about it.

4. Fundamental Concepts in Sociolinguistics

While the study of sociolinguistics is very broad, there are a few fundamental concepts on which many sociolinguistic inquiries depend.

a.       Speech Community

Speech community is a concept in sociolinguistics that describes a more or less discrete group of people who use language in a unique and mutually accepted way among themselves. Speech communities can be members of a profession with a specialized jargon, distinct social groups like high school students or hip hop fans, or even tight-knit groups like families and friends. Members of speech communities will often develop slang or jargon to serve the group’s special purposes and prioritie

b.      High prestige and low prestige varieties

Crucial to sociolinguistic analysis is the concept of prestige; certain speech habits are assigned a positive or a negative value which is then applied to the speaker. This can operate on many levels. It can be realised on the level of the individual sound/phoneme, as Labov discovered in investigating pronunciation of the post-vocalic /r/ in the North-Eastern USA, or on the macro scale of language choice, as realised in the various diglossias that exist throughout the world, where Swiss-German/High German is perhaps most well known. An important implication of sociolinguistic theory is that speakers ‘choose’ a variety when making a speech act, whether consciously or subconsciously.

c.       Social network

Understanding language in society means that one also has to understand the social networks in which language is embedded. A social network is another way of describing a particular speech community in terms of relations between individual members in a community. A network could be loose or tight depending on how members interact with each other. [4] For instance, an office or factory may be considered a tight community because all members interact with each other. A large course with 100+ students be a looser community because students may only interact with the instructor and maybe 1-2 other students. A multiplexcommunity is one in which members have multiple relationships with each other. [4]For instance, in some neighborhoods, members may live on the same street, work for the same employer and even intermarry.

The looseness or tightness of a social network may affect speech patterns adopted by a speaker. For instance, Dubois and Hovarth (1998:254) found that speakers in one Cajun Louisiana community were more likely to pronounce English “th” [θ] as [t] (or [ð] as [d]) if they participated in a relatively dense social network (i.e. had strong local ties and interacted with many other speakers in the community), and less likely if their networks were looser (i.e. fewer local ties).

A social network may apply to the macro level of a country or a city, but also to the inter-personal level of neighborhoods or a single family. Recently, social networks have been formed by the Internet, through chat rooms, MySpace groups, organizations, and online dating services.

d. Internal vs. external language

      In Chomskian linguistics, a distinction is drawn between I-language (internal language) and E-language (external language). In this context, internal language applies to the study of syntax and semantics in language on the abstract level; as mentally represented knowledge in a native speaker. External language applies to language in social contexts, i.e. behavioral habits shared by a community. Internal language analyses operate on the assumption that all native speakers of a language are quite homogeneous in how they process and perceive language.[citation needed] External language fields, such as sociolinguistics, attempt to explain why this is in fact not the case. Many sociolinguists reject the distinction between I- and E-language on the grounds that it is based on a mentalist view of language. On this view, grammar is first and foremost an interactional (social) phenomenon (e.g. Elinor Ochs, Emanuel Schegloff, Sandra Thompson).

5. Differences according to class

            Sociolinguistics as a field distinct from dialectology was pioneered through the study of language variation in urban areas. Whereas dialectology studies the geographic distribution of language variation, sociolinguistics focuses on other sources of variation, among them class. Class and occupation are among the most important linguistic markers found in society. One of the fundamental findings of sociolinguistics, which has been hard to disprove, is that class and language variety are related. Members of the working class tend to speak less standard language, while the lower, middle, and upper middle class will in turn speak closer to the standard. However, the upper class, even members of the upper middle class, may often speak ‘less’ standard than the middle class. This is because not only class, but class aspirations, are important.

a.       Class aspiration

Studies, such as those by William Labov in the 1960s, have shown that social aspirations influence speech patterns. This is also true of class aspirations. In the process of wishing to be associated with a certain class (usually the upper class and upper middle class) people who are moving in that direction socio-economically will adjust their speech patterns to sound like them. However, not being native upper class speakers, they often hypercorrect, which involves overcorrecting their speech to the point of introducing new errors. The same is true for individuals moving down in socio-economic status.

b.      Social language codes

Basil Bernstein, a well-known British socio-linguist, devised in his book, ‘Elaborated and restricted codes: their social origins and some consequences,’ a social code system which he used to classify the various speech patterns for different social classes. He claimed that members of the middle class have ways of organizing their speech which are fundamentally very different from the ways adopted by the working class.

1.      Restricted code

In Basil Bernstein’s theory, the restricted code was an example of the speech patterns used by the working-class. He stated that this type of code allows strong bonds between group members, who tend to behave largely on the basis of distinctions such as ‘male’, ‘female’, ‘older’, and ‘younger’. This social group also uses language in a way which brings unity between people, and members often do not need to be explicit about meaning, as their shared knowledge and common understanding often bring them together in a way which other social language groups do not experience. The difference with the restricted code is the emphasis on ‘we’ as a social group, which fosters greater solidarity than an emphasis on ‘I’.

2.   Elaborated code

      Basil Bernstein also studied what he named the ‘elaborated code’ explaining that in this type of speech pattern the middle and upper classes use this language style to gain access to education and career advancement. Bonds within this social group are not as well defined and people achieve their social identity largely on the basis of individual disposition and temperament. There is no obvious division of tasks according to sex or age and generally, within this social formation members negotiate and achieve their roles, rather than have them there ready-made in advance. Due to the lack of solidarity the elaborated social language code requires individual intentions and viewpoints to be made explicit as the ‘I’ has a greater emphasis with this social group than the working class.

c.       Deviation from standard language varieties

The existence of differences in language between social classes can be illustrated by the following table:

Bristolian Dialect (lower class) Standard English (higher class)
I ain’t done nothing I haven’t done anything
I done it yesterday I did it yesterday
It weren’t me that done it I didn’t do it

Any native speaker of English would immediately be able to guess that speaker 1was likely of a different social class than speaker 2, namely from a lower social class, probably from a working class pedigree. The differences in grammar between the two examples of speech is referred to as differences between social class dialects or sociolects. It is also notable that, at least in England and Australia, the closer to standard English a dialect gets, the less the lexicon varies by region, and vice-versa.

d.      Covert prestige

It is generally assumed that non-standard language is low-prestige language. However, in certain groups, such as traditional working class neighborhoods, standard language may be considered undesirable in many contexts. This is because the working class dialect is a powerful in-group marker, and especially for non-mobile individuals, the use of non-standard varieties (even exaggeratedly so) expresses neighborhood pride and group and class solidarity. There will thus be a considerable difference in use of non-standard varieties when going to the pub or having a neighborhood barbecue (high), and going to the bank (lower) for the same individual.

 


[1] J.K., ChambersSociolinguistic Theory, second edition, Oxford, England, Blackwell (2003), pages 195–199.

Linguistic Marketplace

Background of the study

            Sociolinguistics is the study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used[1]. Sociolinguistics differs from sociology of language in that the focus of sociolinguistics is the effect of the society on the language, while the latter’s focus is on the language’s effect on the society (linguistics marketplace). Sociolinguistics overlaps to a considerable degree with pragmatics. It is historically closely related to Linguistic Anthropologyand the distinction between the two fields has even been questioned recently.

It also studies how language varieties differ between groups separated by certainsocial variables, e.g., ethnicityreligionstatusgender, level of educationage, etc., and how creation and adherence to these rules is used to categorize individuals in social or socioeconomic classes. As the usage of a language varies from place to place (dialect), language usage varies among social classes, and it is these sociolects that sociolinguistics studies.

The social aspects of language were in the modern sense first studied by Indian and Japanese linguists in the 1930s, and also by Gauchat in Switzerland in the early 1900s, but none received much attention in the West until much later. The study of the social motivation of language change, on the other hand, has its foundation in the wave model of the late 19th century. The first attested use of the term sociolinguistics was by Thomas Callan Hodson in the title of a 1939 paper. Sociolinguistics in the West first appeared in the 1960s and was pioneered by linguists such as William Labov in the US and Basil Bernstein in the UK[2].

In this papers will be analyze more detail or more specifict about Linguistics Marketplace. What is the definition of linguistics marketplace itself.

Explanation

            In sociolinguistics, the linguistic marketplace refers to the theory that the value of a speaker’s choice of language depends on his or her role in society. Sociolinguist J.K. Chambers has written that listeners place more value on the language of “professionals of language,” such as teachers, authors, and lawyers, than they do on that of chemists or engineers[3]. They similarly place more value on “technicians of language,” like actors and secretaries, because these jobs require more interaction with other people and greater proficiency with words.

The need to find employment strongly influences the spoken language, Chambers wrote, usually pushing the speaker towards a standardized tongue or the most prestigious one used in the area. When a lower value is placed on language in occupations requiring little need to talk with others, that push towards standardization does not occur. The linguistic marketplace also plays a significant role in the ways that the speech of women and men differ, as well as that of various age levels.

Language as Social Behavior, Language is one of the most powerful emblems of social behavior. In the normal transfer of information through language, we use language to send vital social messages about who we are, where we come from, and who we associate with. It is often shocking to realize how extensively we may judge a person’s background, character, and intentions based simply upon the person’s language, dialect, or, in some instances, even the choice of a single word.

Given the social role of language, it stands to reason that one strand of language study should concentrate on the role of language in society. Sociolinguistics has become an increasingly important and popular field of study, as certain cultures around the world expand their communication base and intergroup and interpersonal relations take on escalating significance.

The basic notion underlying sociolinguistics is quite simple: Language use symbolically represents fundamental dimensions of social behavior and human interaction. The notion is simple, but the ways in which language reflects behavior can often be complex and subtle. Furthermore, the relationship between language and society affects a wide range of encounters–from broadly based international relations to narrowly defined interpersonal relationships.

For example, sociolinguists might investigate language attitudes among large populations on a national level, such as those exhibited in the US with respect to the English-only amendment–the legislative proposal to make English the ‘official’ language of the US. Similarly, we might study the status of French and English in Canada or the status of national and vernacular languages in the developing nations of the world as symbols of fundamental social relations among cultures and nationalities. In considering language as a social institution, sociolinguists often use sociological techniques involving data from questionnaires and summary statistical data, along with information from direct observation.

A slightly different concern with language and society focuses more closely on the effect of particular kinds of social situations on language structure. For example, language contact studies focus on the origin and the linguistic composition of pidgin and creole languages. These special language varieties arise when speakers from mutually unintelligible language groups need a common language for communication. Throughout the world, there are many sociohistorical situations that have resulted in these specialized language situations–in the Caribbean, Africa, South America, Asia, and the Pacific Islands. In examining language contact situations, it is also possible to examine not only the details of a particular language but also the social and linguistic details that show how bilingual speakers use each language and switch between them[4].

Another approach to language and society focuses on the situations and uses of language as an activity in its own right. The study of language in its social context tells us quite a bit about how we organize our social relationships within a particular community. Addressing a person as ‘Mrs.’, ‘Ms.’, or by a first name is not really about simple vocabulary choice but about the relationship and social position of the speaker and addressee. Similarly, the use of sentence alternatives such as Pass the saltWould you mind passing the salt, or I think this food could use a little salt is not a matter of simple sentence structure; the choice involves cultural values and norms of politeness, deference, and status

In approaching language as a social activity, it is possible to focus on discovering the specific patterns or social rules for conducting conversation and discourse. We may, for example, describe the rules for opening and closing a conversation, how to take conversational turns, or how to tell a story or joke.

It is also possible to examine how people manage their language in relation to their cultural backgrounds and their goals of interaction. Sociolinguists might investigate questions such as how mixed-gender conversations differ from single-gender conversations, how differential power relations manifest themselves in language forms, how caregivers let children know the ways in which language should be used, or how language change occurs and spreads to communities. To answer these questions related to language as social activity, sociolinguists often use ethnographic methods. That is, they attempt to gain an understanding of the values and viewpoints of a community in order to explain the behaviors and attitudes of its members.

Two trends have characterized the development of sociolinguistics over the past several decades. First, the rise of particular specializations within this field has coincided with the emergence of more broadly based social and political issues. Thus, the focus on themes such as language and nationalism, language and ethnicity, and language and gender has corresponded with the rise of related issues in society at large. Second, specialists who examine the role of language and society have become more and more interested in applying the results of their studies to the broadly based social, educational, and political problems that probably gave rise to their emergence as sociolinguistic themes to begin with. Sociolinguistics thus offers a unique opportunity to bring together theory, description, and application in the study of language.

As a marketer, in most cases you can not shape public opinion or create a profitable economy of scale unless you understand how words are used in a manipulative manner to shape opinion to create profit for external antimarket institutions. Looking through economic history and the history of linguistics enables you to realize opportunities when others are not being honest or consistent in their policies, and it helps you form an argument which enables you to sound logical and reasonable while reframing the debate at an appropriate time.

 

1. Applications of sociolinguistics

            Sociolinguistics topics; General Accent Generative linguistics Cognitive linguistics Computational, linguistics Descriptive linguistics Linguistic pragmatics Unsolved problems in linguistics History History of linguistics Historical linguistics People List of linguists.

For example, a sociolinguist might determine through study of social attitudes that a particular vernacular would not be considered appropriate language use in a business or professional setting. Sociolinguists might also study the grammar,phoneticsvocabulary, and other aspects of this sociolect much as dialectologistswould study the same for a regional dialect.

The study of language variation is concerned with social constraints determining language in its contextual environmentCode-switching is the term given to the use of different varieties of language in different social situations. William Labov is often regarded as the founder of the study of sociolinguistics. He is especially noted for introducing the quantitative study of language variation and change, [3] making the sociology of language into a scientific discipline.

2. Sociolinguistic variables

Studies in the field of sociolinguistics typically take a sample population and interview them, assessing the realisation of certain sociolinguistic variables. Labov specifies the ideal sociolinguistic variable to

  • be high in frequency,
  • have a certain immunity from conscious suppression,
  • be an integral part of larger structures, and
  • be easily quantified on a linear scale.

Phonetic variables tend to meet these criteria and are often used, as are grammatical variables and, more rarely, lexical variables. Examples for phonetic variables are: the frequency of the glottal stop, the height or backness of a vowelor the realisation of word-endings. An example of a grammatical variable is the frequency of negative concord (known colloquially as a double negative).

3. Traditional sociolinguistic interview

            Sociolinguistic interviews are an integral part of collecting data for sociolinguistic studies. There is an interviewer, who is conducting the study, and a subject, orinformant, who is the interviewee. In order to get a grasp on a specific linguistic form and how it is used in the dialect of the subject, a variety of methods are used to elicit certain registers of speech. There are five different styles, ranging from formal to casual.

The most formal style would be elicited by having the subject read a list of minimal pairs (MP). Minimal pairs are pairs of words that differ in only one phoneme, such as cat and bat. Having the subject read a word list (WL) will elicit a formal register, but generally not as formal as MP. The reading passage (RP) style is next down on the formal register, and the interview style (IS) is when an interviewer can finally get into eliciting a more casual speech from the subject.

During the IS the interviewer can converse with the subject and try to draw out of him an even more casual sort of speech by asking him to recall childhood memories or maybe a near death experience, in which case the subject will get deeply involved with the story since strong emotions are often attached to these memories. Of course, the most sought after type of speech is the casual style (CS). This type of speech is difficult if not impossible to elicit because of theObserver’s Paradox. The closest one might come to CS in an interview is when the subject is interrupted by a close friend or family member, or perhaps must answer the phone. CS is used in a completely unmonitored environment where the subject feels most comfortable and will use their natural vernacular without overtly thinking about it.

4. Fundamental Concepts in Sociolinguistics

While the study of sociolinguistics is very broad, there are a few fundamental concepts on which many sociolinguistic inquiries depend.

a.       Speech Community

Speech community is a concept in sociolinguistics that describes a more or less discrete group of people who use language in a unique and mutually accepted way among themselves. Speech communities can be members of a profession with a specialized jargon, distinct social groups like high school students or hip hop fans, or even tight-knit groups like families and friends. Members of speech communities will often develop slang or jargon to serve the group’s special purposes and prioritie

b.      High prestige and low prestige varieties

Crucial to sociolinguistic analysis is the concept of prestige; certain speech habits are assigned a positive or a negative value which is then applied to the speaker. This can operate on many levels. It can be realised on the level of the individual sound/phoneme, as Labov discovered in investigating pronunciation of the post-vocalic /r/ in the North-Eastern USA, or on the macro scale of language choice, as realised in the various diglossias that exist throughout the world, where Swiss-German/High German is perhaps most well known. An important implication of sociolinguistic theory is that speakers ‘choose’ a variety when making a speech act, whether consciously or subconsciously.

c.       Social network

Understanding language in society means that one also has to understand the social networks in which language is embedded. A social network is another way of describing a particular speech community in terms of relations between individual members in a community. A network could be loose or tight depending on how members interact with each other. [4] For instance, an office or factory may be considered a tight community because all members interact with each other. A large course with 100+ students be a looser community because students may only interact with the instructor and maybe 1-2 other students. A multiplexcommunity is one in which members have multiple relationships with each other. [4]For instance, in some neighborhoods, members may live on the same street, work for the same employer and even intermarry.

The looseness or tightness of a social network may affect speech patterns adopted by a speaker. For instance, Dubois and Hovarth (1998:254) found that speakers in one Cajun Louisiana community were more likely to pronounce English “th” [θ] as [t] (or [ð] as [d]) if they participated in a relatively dense social network (i.e. had strong local ties and interacted with many other speakers in the community), and less likely if their networks were looser (i.e. fewer local ties).

A social network may apply to the macro level of a country or a city, but also to the inter-personal level of neighborhoods or a single family. Recently, social networks have been formed by the Internet, through chat rooms, MySpace groups, organizations, and online dating services.

d. Internal vs. external language

      In Chomskian linguistics, a distinction is drawn between I-language (internal language) and E-language (external language). In this context, internal language applies to the study of syntax and semantics in language on the abstract level; as mentally represented knowledge in a native speaker. External language applies to language in social contexts, i.e. behavioral habits shared by a community. Internal language analyses operate on the assumption that all native speakers of a language are quite homogeneous in how they process and perceive language.[citation needed] External language fields, such as sociolinguistics, attempt to explain why this is in fact not the case. Many sociolinguists reject the distinction between I- and E-language on the grounds that it is based on a mentalist view of language. On this view, grammar is first and foremost an interactional (social) phenomenon (e.g. Elinor Ochs, Emanuel Schegloff, Sandra Thompson).

5. Differences according to class

            Sociolinguistics as a field distinct from dialectology was pioneered through the study of language variation in urban areas. Whereas dialectology studies the geographic distribution of language variation, sociolinguistics focuses on other sources of variation, among them class. Class and occupation are among the most important linguistic markers found in society. One of the fundamental findings of sociolinguistics, which has been hard to disprove, is that class and language variety are related. Members of the working class tend to speak less standard language, while the lower, middle, and upper middle class will in turn speak closer to the standard. However, the upper class, even members of the upper middle class, may often speak ‘less’ standard than the middle class. This is because not only class, but class aspirations, are important.

a.       Class aspiration

Studies, such as those by William Labov in the 1960s, have shown that social aspirations influence speech patterns. This is also true of class aspirations. In the process of wishing to be associated with a certain class (usually the upper class and upper middle class) people who are moving in that direction socio-economically will adjust their speech patterns to sound like them. However, not being native upper class speakers, they often hypercorrect, which involves overcorrecting their speech to the point of introducing new errors. The same is true for individuals moving down in socio-economic status.

b.      Social language codes

Basil Bernstein, a well-known British socio-linguist, devised in his book, ‘Elaborated and restricted codes: their social origins and some consequences,’ a social code system which he used to classify the various speech patterns for different social classes. He claimed that members of the middle class have ways of organizing their speech which are fundamentally very different from the ways adopted by the working class.

1.      Restricted code

In Basil Bernstein’s theory, the restricted code was an example of the speech patterns used by the working-class. He stated that this type of code allows strong bonds between group members, who tend to behave largely on the basis of distinctions such as ‘male’, ‘female’, ‘older’, and ‘younger’. This social group also uses language in a way which brings unity between people, and members often do not need to be explicit about meaning, as their shared knowledge and common understanding often bring them together in a way which other social language groups do not experience. The difference with the restricted code is the emphasis on ‘we’ as a social group, which fosters greater solidarity than an emphasis on ‘I’.

2.   Elaborated code

      Basil Bernstein also studied what he named the ‘elaborated code’ explaining that in this type of speech pattern the middle and upper classes use this language style to gain access to education and career advancement. Bonds within this social group are not as well defined and people achieve their social identity largely on the basis of individual disposition and temperament. There is no obvious division of tasks according to sex or age and generally, within this social formation members negotiate and achieve their roles, rather than have them there ready-made in advance. Due to the lack of solidarity the elaborated social language code requires individual intentions and viewpoints to be made explicit as the ‘I’ has a greater emphasis with this social group than the working class.

c.       Deviation from standard language varieties

The existence of differences in language between social classes can be illustrated by the following table:

Bristolian Dialect (lower class) Standard English (higher class)
I ain’t done nothing I haven’t done anything
I done it yesterday I did it yesterday
It weren’t me that done it I didn’t do it

Any native speaker of English would immediately be able to guess that speaker 1was likely of a different social class than speaker 2, namely from a lower social class, probably from a working class pedigree. The differences in grammar between the two examples of speech is referred to as differences between social class dialects or sociolects. It is also notable that, at least in England and Australia, the closer to standard English a dialect gets, the less the lexicon varies by region, and vice-versa.

d.      Covert prestige

It is generally assumed that non-standard language is low-prestige language. However, in certain groups, such as traditional working class neighborhoods, standard language may be considered undesirable in many contexts. This is because the working class dialect is a powerful in-group marker, and especially for non-mobile individuals, the use of non-standard varieties (even exaggeratedly so) expresses neighborhood pride and group and class solidarity. There will thus be a considerable difference in use of non-standard varieties when going to the pub or having a neighborhood barbecue (high), and going to the bank (lower) for the same individual.

 


[1] J.K., ChambersSociolinguistic Theory, second edition, Oxford, England, Blackwell (2003), pages 195–199.

[2] http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Linguistic+performance

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_marketplace

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Chambers_(linguist)

[2] http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Linguistic+performance

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_marketplace

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Chambers_(linguist)

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