Chapter 9 Language and Society English Linguistics: An Introduction
Chapter 9 Language and Society 0. Warm-up Questions 1. Sociolinguistics 2. Language Variation 3. Sociolinguistic Study of Society 4. Application of Sociolinguistics
0. Warm-up Questions • How are society and language related to each other? • How do different social factors, like age and gender, affect language use? • How do people talk differently in different situations? • What are the other varieties of language besides regional dialects? • Can you imagine two standard languages used in one nation?
1. Sociolinguistics 1.1 Definition (p160) • Sociolinguistics is the sub-field of linguistics that studies the relation between language and society, between the uses of language and the social structures in which the users of language live. • Metaphorically, language is regarded as a mirror of society, through which we can understand social activities of a certain society better. • Functionally, society provides language with a suitable context of use, in which we can enjoy aspects of language vividly and truthfully.
1. Sociolinguistics 1.2 Two Fundamental Concepts • Speech community: a group of people who form a community (e.g. a village, a region, a nation) and share the same language or a particular variety of a language. • Speech variety (language variety): any distinguishable form of speech used by a speaker (e.g. idiolect) or a group of speakers (dialect, sociolect).
1. Sociolinguistics 1.3 Two approaches/perspectives (p160) • Micro-sociolinguistics (sociolinguistic study of language): the study of potential social factors for a description and explanation of some linguistic variations, e.g. regional dialects, social dialects, Pidgin and Creole. • Macro-sociolinguistics (sociolinguistic study of society): the study of language use to know more about a given society or community, e.g. bilingualism, language planning, language standardization, etc.
2. Language Variation Varieties of language are assumed to be related both to the language user and the use. Varieties related to the user are normally known as dialects and varieties related to use as registers. 2.1 Dialects • Regional dialect: a linguistic variety used by people living in the same geographical region. • E.g. It needs washing. (English) It needs washed. (Scottish)
2. Language Variation 2.1 Dialects • Social dialect/ sociolect (p157) : a social variety of language used by people in the same social condition, such as • Class: I did it yesterday. I done it yesterday. • Gender: 讨厌 • Age: netspeak • Ethnic group: They mine, You crazy. [Black English] • Individuality: idiolect (a personal dialect of an individual speaker)
2. Language Variation 2.2 Register According to Halliday, language differs in different situations. The type of language which is selected as appropriated to the type of situation is a register. Three social variables that determines the register: • Field of discourse: subject matter (technical, non-technical) • Tenor of discourse: participants (e.g. political speech, cooking recipe) • Mode of discourse: means of communication (speaking, writing)
2. Language Variation 2.3 Special varieties • Standard dialect: a superimposed, socially prestigious dialect of a language • Pidgin: a special variety that mixes or blends languages and is used by people who speak different languages for restricted purposes. • “瘪三”（BEG SIR），乞丐先生，用来形容叫花子、难民、逃荒者等各式穷人，后引申为最广泛的骂人用语之一。 • “赤佬”是英语“CHEAT”（欺骗）和中文“佬”的混生词语，一个鲁迅时代最流行的洋泾浜俚语（隐语）。
2. Language Variation 2.3 Special varieties • When a pidgin has become the primary language of a speech community, and is acquired by the children of that speech community as their native language, it is said to have become a Creole. • Notable examples are the English-based Creole of Jamaica, and the French-based Creole of Haiti.
3. Sociolinguistic Study of Society 3.1 Bilingualism • Definition: The situation where two languages are used side by side with each have a different role to play. • French and English in Canada, French and Flemish Dutch in Belgium 3.2 Diglossia • Definition: The situation where two varieties of a language exist side by side throughout a speech community, with each having a definite role to play. • Arabic, Modern Greek, Swiss German, Haitian Creole
4. Application of Sociolinguistics 4.1 Language classroom (p161) Sociolinguistic contribution to language instruction: • A change of emphasis in the content of language teaching; • Innovations in materials and activities for the classroom; • A fresh look at the nature of language development and use, etc.
4. Application of Sociolinguistics 4.2 Law court (p161) Sociolinguistics can find its application in • Linguistic analysis of language data gathered as evidence; • The preparation of some legal documents; • Understanding of the relationship between power and language in use, etc.
4. Application of Sociolinguistics 4.3 Clinic setting (p162) Sociolinguists are interested in • The analysis of dialogues between doctors and patients in a hospital context; • The illustration of how the concept of power is encoded and decoded, etc.