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Language and Dialect


Language and Dialect Language vs. Dialect A language is a dialect with an army and a navy. Usually language refers to the DOMINANT dialect, which is ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Language and Dialect

Language and Dialect
Language vs. Dialect
  • A language is a dialect with an army and a
  • Usually language refers to the DOMINANT
    dialect, which is perceived as closest to the
    STANDARD form used in writing.
  • As Ottenheimer notes, we often think of dialects
    of a language as being mutual intelligible with
    one another (speakers of each dialect can
    understand speakers of the other dialects and
    vice versa)

Dialects (Varieties)
  • A dialect is a regionally or socially distinctive
    variety of a language, identified by a particular
    set of words (vocabulary) and grammatical
    structures, as well as a certain phonology.
  • To avoid the stigma of dialect, most linguists
    use the word linguistic variety instead

Prestige and Stigma
  • A prestige variety is a dialect associated with
    mainstream social prestige for example a
    dialect that sounds educated or sophisticated
  • A stigmatized variety is a dialect associated
    with negative features, from a mainstream social
    perspective e.g. uneducated lower class

Negative prestige
  • A negative prestige variety is one that is
    associated with negative social value, but also
    carries a lot of prestige in certain social
  • Example Male speakers of certain regional
    dialects (North End Boston) are often considered
    extra-masculine within their social group

Language Attitudes
  • Language attitudes are attitudes about language.
  • Examples include beautiful, ignorant, lazy,
    logical, clear, melodious, primitive, precise,
    passive, forceful etc.
  • What are some of the stereotypes we relate to
    different dialects in the US?

(No Transcript)
Language and cultural differences
  • communicative practices are habitual language
    practices groups of people use to communicate
    with each other and to create and maintain
    distinct groups/identities
  • Example use of rising intonation in Southern
    dialects of English.
  • http//

Language is not homogenous!
  • Language isnt now and never was homogenous, that
    is, the same across all speakers, regions or
  • In fact, variation across speakers or groups of
    speakers is part of the reason why language
    change occurs

One language ? One Culture
  • Speakers of the same language may still differ in
    important ways in terms of their norms and
    expectations for language use.
  • This might include
  • Accent (pronunciation of words)
  • Word meanings
  • Appropriate speech in different situations
  • Paralinguistic rules (gaze, gesture etc.)
  • Proxemics
  • Other community- or group-based

Speech Community
  • A speech community is a group of people who share
    a set of rules and norms for communication and
    interpretation of speech.
  • Rules and norms includes everything from
    intonation and vocabulary, to body positioning
    and eye contact
  • Ottenheimer pg. 94 A speech community is a
    group of people who share one or more varieties
    of language and the rules for using those
    varieties in everyday communication.

  • The idea of a speech community allows us to do
    two things
  • 1) Focus on a smaller social unit than all the
    speakers of a language.
  • 2) Get away from the idea that one language
    one culture
  • Can we belong to more than one speech community?

  • Communicative competence refers to what we know
    when we really know a language. It means that we
    can recognize and use a broad range of registers,
    and that we know the meanings of different
    communicative practices used by most people in a
    given speech community.

Ethnography of Speaking
  • The ethnography of speaking focuses on describing
    features of different speech communities
  • includes descriptions of explicit norms for
  • details verbal, nonverbal and social expectations
    surrounding interaction
  • focuses on particular contexts and types of
    speech events, and how language changes in
    different situations

  • Members of a speech community SHARE ideas about
    appropriate conduct in different speech
  • When two people come from different speech
    communities and dont share ideas about
    appropriate conduct, miscommunication often

  • miscommunication - a misinterpretation of
    intended meaning failure to achieve
  • Miscommunication occurs all the time within
    speech communities, but across speech communities
    miscommunication often occurs at regular points
    where rules and norms are different in the two

Bailey article
  • Example of ethnography of communication
  • About miscommunication across ethnic lines
  • Focuses on interactional styles the basic ways
    people organize their interactions with one
    another based on expectations for those

Politeness strategies or styles
  • involvement strategy express approval and
    emphasizes solidarity (African-American)
  • restraint strategy emphasizes unwillingness to
    impose on others (Korean)

Social Consequences of Miscommunication
  • Each side engages in inappropriate behavior by
    the standards of the other
  • The service encounter breaks down
  • Cultural stereotypes and animosity are reinforced

Norms and expectations
  • Koreans business encounter should not be
    personal should focus on business and involve
    minimum of speaking
  • African American business encounter should be a
    social encounter that emphasizes a relationship
    between interactants

  • According to the information Bailey gives, do
    Koreans and African Americans in LA belong to
    different speech communities?
  • Understanding how norms for communication differ
    across communities can help ease

  • register is a term that describes how language
    varies across situations
  • Ottenheimer varieties of a language that are
    considered appropriate to specific situations
    formal informal babytalk
  • Agar examples Scuba divers, junkies

Ways of Speaking
  • Registers can be described as ways of speaking
  • The way you speak to an older person
  • a baby
  • when you are

Register features
  • Registers exist WITHIN dialects.
  • However, registers usually involve variations in
    vocabulary, pitch, pacing, and sometimes
    phonology and intonation.
  • e.g. most formal registers in English have less
    pitch variation than informal ones, plus a
    distinct vocabulary, and pacing that may be
    slower or faster than casual ones

Film American Tongues
  • As you watch, think about this quote from two
    leading sociolinguists
  • Although public discrimination on the grounds of
    race, religion and social class is not now
    acceptable, it appears that discrimination on
    linguistic grounds is publicly acceptable, even
    though linguistic differences may themselves be
    associated with ethnic, religious and class
  • quote from L. Milroy and J. Milroys Authority in

  • Examples of prestige, stigmatized and negative
    prestige dialects?
  • Thinking about the definition of speech
    community, are dialect and worldview connected?

Do we all speak one language?
  • One language ? One culture
  • Obvious examples from American Tongues
  • What cultural differences did people focus on
    when also describing regional or socio-economic
    differences in language?