Language, Society and Power - Annabelle Mooney, Summaries for English Language

Language, Society and Power - Annabelle Mooney, Summaries for English Language

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CHAPTER 1 – What is language? Individual don’t use language in the same way. It changes and varies depending on the people using it, their age and their social class, for example. We’re all linguists.

Norman Fairclough argues that the ability to understand how language function is crucial to understand society and people. Moreover language is also important to understand power, persuasion and how people live together. De Saussure writes in the lives of individuals and society speech is more important of anything else. Looking at language can tell us about:

• how our brains process language

• how we learn languages and how best to teach them

• how social factors affect the way people use language

PRESCRIPTION and DESCRIPTION Description is the work of analyzing and describing how language is spoken by group of people in a speech community; instead prescription seeks to define standard language forms and gives advice on effective language use.

Bad Language: Jargon Jargon can be defined as the use of specialized words and expression that are difficult to understand for people not part of that specialized group. This language is something that needs to be learnt not just in terms of the words themselves but also how they are used. This acquisition isn’t easy and for this reason it is impressive. Being able to use jargon is part of establishing power in fact the ability to provoke awe in an audience points to the connection between jargon and power.

Language is a ruled-governed system, but language is not governed by rules in the same way that society is governed by laws. In fact linguists don’t decide on rules and don’t try to make follow them, rather they look at language to discover the rules that make it work. So is the thing that make communication possible. Language changes and new rules are described. This rules tell speakers how to combine different parts of that language.

COMPETENCE and PERFORMANCE Noam Chomsky made an important distinction between competence and performance. To have competence in a language means to have knowledge in the grammar. Grammar is all rules that needs to be followed in order to produce well-formed utterances. A competent speaker needs to know syntax, morphology, semantics and phonology. Performance refers to the way individual speakers actually use language.

Communicative Competence allows speakers to avoid inappropriate utterances.

Sociolinguistics looks at the variation that we find among speakers in their linguistic performance in order to understand different form of communicative competence that are

required by speakers of different kinds. Sociolinguistics look at the way that language is used in normal life by all kinds of people, to accomplish all manners of goals.

The potential to create new meanings When we create new meanings we follow the rules about how to construct an acceptable word. It’s also possible to use existing words in a new way, for example by changing their function from a noun to a verb.

Multiple function Language can have different function. It can be used to refer things, to amuse or to demonstrate power. Roman Jacobson argues that language must be investigated in all of the variety of its function. He starts with describing the speaker. There is then the addressee. To account for the message from the addresser to addressee, we need to examine four things: • For the message to be communicated there has to be am medium of communication (or contact), this will have influence on how the message is encode.

• The code choose must be one that both subjects of communication have access to.

• The message will be sent and received in a context.

• The emotive function is in the position of the addresser as it aims a direct expression of the speaker’s attitude towards what is speaking about.

• In the addressee position there is the conative function that helps us describe messages intended to have an effect to the audience.

• The message instead can have different functions. For example the referential function that includes ideas, objects and information which speakers share knowledge of; or the phatic function which purpose is to communicate about something that while socially acceptable is not of itself significant.

Language diversity Variation is a challenge. We might think that the language variety can be identified geographically. There are difference that deal with accent or between speakers of English in relation to the words they use for particular things and the order in which words are placed. We can talk about this in terms of dialect. Language is connected to identity. For this reason people have strong views about their languages.


The many function of language mean that there are different ways in which power can be exercised. It is possible to achieve influence over people both through direct ways and indirect ones. With language we can insult, persuade, command, encourage and engaging in repeated acts of this kind to change a person world view!

Ideology Everyone has an ideology. Ideology is our way of thinking, it is a set of things we take for granted, values that we hold and ideas that we believe in, in a way perfectly natural.

The manufacture of consent is a work written by Chomsky with E.Herman that focusing on the mass media, seeks to capture their effect on the audience, through five filters:

• Media ownership (proprietari)

• Advertising income (profitto)

• Where our news stories come from

• How groups and individuals respond to stories

• Communism must be avoided at all costs.

Almost always audience are unaware of that and for this reason it find the values of the mass media are normal.

Advertising: ideology in action Advertisement are an excellent place to see the way in which language can have power. We are familiar with use of celebrities in advertisement. Audiences have a positive emotional connection with this famous people and thus they are inclined to believe them. So, power is both in the words spoken and also in who is speaking. To connect this to ideology, we can say that for women to look a certain way is important to be considered attractive. We’re are constantly told that physical attributes, for example to have long hair, are desirable, but this is not a natural state of affairs. It’s a set of naturalized beliefs: an ideology!

Interpellation is the way people are addressed and positioned by ideology. For example when a police man speak to a person, this person is positioned in relation to this officer as an individual and positioned in relationship to power. Louis Althusser calls this positioning interpellation.

CHAPTER 2 – Language thought and representation Language is a system of representation: words are signs. According to De Saussure sign is made up of two things: signifier and signified. The former is the sound we hear, the latter is the concept that the sound make us think of. Another of De Saussure’s insights was the

arbitrary connection between words and their meanings. The connection between word and their meaning is accidental: there is no reason why water is called water.

Different kind of language De Saussure distinguishes three kind of language:

Language or Human speech à Langue (competence) and Parole (performance)

Langue is the overarching system and parole the communicative act, what we produce. Langue is not complete in every speaker and it may be changed, for example like Turkmenistan president did, renaming January with his name. Signs and structure Signs need other signs, so the meaning of a linguistic sign depends on its relation to other signs. The meaning of each signs is contained in a space. We can consider some signs: • Walk à march, stagger, amble

• Run à jog, dash, sprint

We could argue that walk and run are more general than the others. What M,S,A mean can be understood in relation to what they don’t mean. Moreover the space that S occupies is defined by the space that M and A occupy. Thus we can say that for example S means what it does because it doesn’t mean M.

So, when a new sign is introduced the whole system of signs is reconsidered.

Linguistic diversity: there isn’t a single way for language can describe reality. This is the first part of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

Dyirbal Just as languages encode semantic difference in various ways, grammatical systems also vary. It’s worth looking at an example of this. In the indigenous Australian language whenever a noun is used it must be accompanied by a noun-marker which indicates which class it belongs to. Dixon was able to map these classes: 1-human masculine-2human feminine 3-non flesh food 4-everything else.

Linguistic relativism and determinism The second part of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis describes linguistic relativism and determinism, arguing that our language has a bearing on the way we think. The former is more plausible and less confining the latter is the prison house view of language. The implication is that the limits of language are the limits of the world. If it was true we could not create new meaning as we actually do. So it doesn’t held. Does language influences thought and behavior? Whorf argues that people behave in terms of things are labelled rather than they really are. So relativism suggests language influences the way we think. But how far does it go this connection? John Lucy offers a new point of view: the habitual cognition, that is languages provides speakers with a bias in their habitual response. Generally we are not aware of our habits of thought. For example we describe space in term of left and right. In other languages spaces are described in relation to compass

points. This is an habit that we all could learn but to do so take effort and will. So, habits can be changed.

Colour Not all languages have the same colour terms. For example while English has one basic term for “blue”, Russian has two. J. Winawer investigated this case to the termin whether the difference In language can lead to a difference in thoughts. The subject were given 3 squares of colour, two side by side and one below, they were asked which f the two squares was the same as the single below. Winawer found that Russian speaker were faster to discriminate the two colours. The difference is not that English speakers cannot distinguish between light and dark blues but rather that Russian speaker cannot avoid distinguishing them.

One language many worlds Even in a single language like English there are many ways of representing the world. Fairclough calls “naturalisation ” the reason why we tend only to identify the beliefs of other people because we consider ours to be natural and obvious. If we will look at language we can see particular ideologies at work. Ideologies work like filter changing the way things are representing according to values of the ideologies. Particular ways of using a language can encourage certain kinds of behavior.

Other angles of telling It’s not necessary to create new word or expression to convey ideological meanings. When speaking we constantly make choices, we decide which word to use from a number of possible alternatives and we decide what kind of grammatical structure we’ll use. There are two axes we refer to in order to discuss the choices we make. The syntagmatic axis describe the order in which words are placed; the paradigmatic axis is used to refer to all the other words that could have been chosen for a particular slot. We make these decisions about how we represent the world, so whether or not are conscious they are still meaning full and are part of an ideology.

News speak and political correctness

Orwell is well known for his novel “Nineteen Eighty-four” from we can understand his idea on the connection between language and political state of the world. He describes a state who controls language to produce a “newspeak”. The motivation was that if the state could control language it could also control thought. Newspeak can be considered a version of linguistic determinism. When jargon or other specialized language is criticized ,on the basis that it impedes comprehension we can find reference to Orwell’s novel.

Nina Power reflects on Newspeak in the twenty-first century. She says we’re trapped in language that is we are unable to think outside of the parameters of the language: the

attention is focused on linguistic performance rather than problem solving or social issues.

Political correctness is an expression used in different manners. Some people think it means to use language such that it doesn’t discriminate or demean; others say it is an imposition of authority. So, how a term is used influences what it means: meaning is use.


What we mean by “POLITICS”

A narrow definition says that politics deals with decision making and government. The notion of power is important defining politics. The two concepts are linked: politics can be understood as social relationship which deals with power, governing and authority. These terms is not just limited to institutions: a doctor has authority over a patience and parents have the authority and the power to govern the family.

Tools for persuasion: “yes we can”

Used by Obama, this phrase captures the concept that America needed a change. The pronoun “we” is essential: Obama in this way aligns himself with the public. Obama gives the message that the change can happen when Americans work together. The art of persuasion is called rhetoric. It’s a skill traced to ancient Greece. There are five-step process for speak making: invention/idea, arrangement, style, memory and delivery. We are now focusing on style: it concerns with how to word the argument and how to shape the text to become as persuasive as possible for the audience.

Analysing a political speech

Part of the Obama inaugural speech in informal but it is also about emotion and connecting with the people of USA. The address make use of many rhetorical figures. Those are used to make people believe in him as a president. Naima Boussofara-Omar describes what is at stake in the politicians speeches: they use language to legitimate their power. Political speeches are a critical locus for translating those visions and representation of reality into words. In his speech the president need to outline how the expectation he created will be met. Obama begins by addressing the nation: “MY fellow citizens”, Obama chose to include all nationalities and ethnicities, establishing his focus on unity and inclusion.

Metaphor: is a rhetorical figure that uses a name of one thing for something else, creating a connection. Although it is usually associated with poetry it also has a rhetorical

function and thus is a tool often used in politics. Lakoff and Johnson argue that talking about things in metaphorical sense can influence in which we think and behave. At the same time metaphor can be used as a tool to understand new and complex ideas by using familiar language.

Simile: rhetorical figure that establishes an association by saying that something is like something else. For example, “smells like a rose” for something that smell nice. We use it often without knowing it: this shows us that political language is present in everyday life.

Rule of three: in some of his speech Obama uses the rule of three: “homes have been lost, jobs shad ,business shuttered”. This rule is often used in political language because it provides a rhythm which is pleasing and persuasive

Parallelism: sentences placed next to each other having a similar structure. Even Barack in his speech used it to create faith in the public that problems will be solved: “we have chosen hope over fear, unity over conflict”.

Euphemism vs. dyseuphemism

“Enemies of freedom committed an act of war. Fellow citizens will meet violence with patient justice”.

Dyseuphemism highlight negative aspect of something and background any positive association: “act of war”. Euphemism seek to background negative aspects of something and highlight positive ones: “patient justice”.

Hidden in plane side

Appearing to be neutral can be important when trying to persuade an audience of something. That every is political means that all situation we are involved in are a result of politics but usually we are not aware of this so we do not always consider that maybe ours thoughts ideas and action have been formed by others

How to do the hiding

Presupposition is like an assumption, something that is took for granted. Implicature is a conventional conclusion we came to based on what is said.

“I forgot to ask my cousin for her umbrella”

The utterance presupposes that I have a cousin and that she is a woman. It also presupposes that she has an umbrella. The implicature is that it’s going to rain. The difference between implicature and presupposition is that the first can be countered or in technical terms defeased, the second not. So, to defeased the implicature we can say that it isn’t going to rain, but we can’t say that I haven’t got a cousin!

Ideological choice as political choice Politics with language construct power relations. It’s also possible to gain power through physical force, dictators don’t need to use rhetorical skills. In a democracy this is not possible. To have power politicians need to persuade us of their argument, so, giving them power we are more likely to follow them. How can someone persuade us to give him power? Significant element is the ideologies they draw upon. Ideology can be understood as a way of describing a set of believes and behaviours we think off as natural as common sense. When there is a dominant world view we can describe it as the hegemonic Ideology. For centuries Norway was under the rule of Denmark and Sweden. When Norway became a sovereign state it used language as a way of establishing its identity. Norway went through a democratic process with strong focus on equality. Today teachers, businessmen, and priests are all addressed informally and often by first name.

The entrepreneurial university In the domain of higher education there has been a significant ideological shift. The idea is that Universities should engage in profit activity restructuring the organization to facilitate market behaviors, focusing on dynamism and innovation. Universities are encouraged to see themselves as businesses rather than educational institutions. Someone argues sceptically about it: “the EU might violate the soul of academe and run the danger of turning into a business valuing capital more than talent”.

New media A new domain in which ideologies are apparent is in new media. Internet has become a place for social engagement. Political discussion are frequent in online communities. New media has made possible for everyone to participate in the exchange of information. New media creates new ways of doing politics and new ways of using language. They are however used ti share a political and ideological message, another tendence is to create identity. Analysing everyday conversation The persuasive strategies that politicians use are exactly the same ones you can use to convince someone to do something. Thinking about our everyday communication as political reminds us that every communicative event negotiates and constructs a particular relationship. The home life of a family is one arena where political debate takes place. Ochs and Taylor look at the family dinner as political event. They looked at the way in which different family members talk to each other and exchange stories. The “conversational dominance” is used to refer to strategies which enable speakers to dominate their partner in talks. Some strategies are for example interruption or giving no response.

CHAPTER 4 - Language and media News coverage Telling a new story is not a simple case of telling the truth. It is impossible to translate events fully in to language. As soon as language is used to represent something, it undergoes a change. Fowler draws our attention to the implications of word choice and of transitivity: these choices alter the focus of a new story, making some people and events more visible and relevant than others. Fairclough talks about “degrees of presence”, the fact that different aspects of an event can be foregrounded, backgrounded or not mentioned at all. Van Dijk observes and labels the ideological square: • Emphasize our good properties

• Emphasize their bad properties

• Mitigate our bad properties

• Mitigate their good properties We often see this in reports of wars in which the reporting country is involved. Examining who is “us” and “good” can give us an insight into the particular ideology of a new producer. Labeling things and changing order word can have significant effects. If we move beyond the word we find that there others ways of representing events. One of these is by making choices about how to report the order of the events. The sociolinguistic Alan Bell points out that news narratives aren’t chronological: new reports generally start not with what happened first but what author considers important. The result of this is that is it possible to suggest a number of relationships between the events in terms of what is led to what or even to leave some events altogether.

Media voices When we listen to the news on radio or TV, we always give importance to the voice who’s speaking. The news only have authority when they are presented with a standard language. Foucault coined the term “power/knowledge” because he believed the relationship between the two aspects was so close as to warrant a term that rendered them indivisible: “Having knowledge gives you power. The powerful are always those who speak and write in the right way!”

A typical linguistic variation is called register, that is the way in which language can according to the situation. The register is made up of three parts: • FIELD: the topic, the subject matter of the discourse

• TENOR: refers to the style used and the level of formality of the situation • MODE: the medium of communication, such as speech or writing

Chapter 5 – Language and gender Views of gender A common explanation is that sex Is biologically based whereas gender is a cultural construct. Before was argued that gender was a fixed cultural identity that we learn once; many scholars have come to see gender as more fluid and as something we repeatly construct. Judith Butler gives a notion of gender which is “performative”, which she explains us “the repeated stylization of the lady”, a set of repeated acts with a highly regulatory frame that congeal over time to produce the appearance of substance of natural sort of being. We use also language stylize of ourselves as particular kinds of gender beings and this doesn’t depend on our biological sex.

Sexism in the language system The word “sexism” come into use during 1960, it has a negative connotation and is used to refer to prejudices based on sex, particularly discrimination against women.

Symmetry and Asymmetry We can examine how sexism is embedded in the language system through symmetry and asymmetry. An example of symmetry can be found in the lexis for “horse”, a generic terms who refers to animals of either sex. While “stallion” refers to male horse, “mare” is referred to female horse. Instead, for human people, even if exists a generic word for both sexes (people), we can also use the male term “man” to refer to both sexes together. This is an asymmetry.

Titles In England titles are used to differentiate men and women and to indicate women marital status: Women à Mrs, for those are married/ Mss for the unmarried/ Ms for both Men à Mr One reason that this is viewed as sexist is that “Mrs” and “Mss” suggest how sexually available a woman is, while “Mr” gives women no such information. All three female titles are still used and they can allow others people to make assumptions about a woman political view point. Ex if a woman uses Ms in preference of other titles she could be labeled as feminist. Unmarked and marked terms The unmarked form usually is generic and refers to both the male and female. For example, “lion” is unmarked and it can refers to both male and female ones. However we can differentiate gender by using the unmarked form to refer to male and the marked form “lioness” to refer to female.

Usually, for professions and titles the female is marked in the language system by adding the suffix “–ess”: prince à princess actor à actress

Semantic derogation: the way in which words, that refers to women, have acquired belittling (denigratorio) or sexual connotation. (to deroge = to cause to seem inferior) Lady is the counterpart for gentleman, but in some context lady is subjected to SD. So in a work place, to call a woman “lady” is more likely to be understood as belittling. Let’s analyse the term bachelor, spinster or old mad. All this terms refer to someone who has never married. S and OM are viewed as negative terms, referring to women’s appearance and age in a negative way. B doesn’t carry the same negative meaning, in fact it refers to an unmarried man who lives independently, so he is considered as glamour and desirable for marriage. Sexist language reproduces common perceptions about gender norms in society and that contribute to many women having less power than men.

How is English used in a sexist way? We can see how language is combined with other forms of communication to produce ideological messages about gender. Sometimes language is used to make overt references to gender. For example we can say that young women are informed that a very small bikini is fashionable and that they need to know pubic hair is visible. They are encouraged to avoid social stigma by removing pubic hair with their razor. So the advertisement also says what men want and language is used in both sexist and heterosexual way.

The talk of women and men Always women talk is associated to the term “chatterbox” this suggest that women’s way of talking is considered inferior to men’s one. Otto Jespersen claimed that women’s use of vocabulary is more restricted and that they jump from a topic to another. A Lakoff’s famous work served her feminist aim to highlight that women’s language reflected women lack of access to power. Researches have found interesting differences between women and men which regard to their pronunciation and grammar. Has been found that women tend to use more standard forms of pronunciation and grammar than men.

Verbosity: excessive wordiness Several studies report that men talk more than women, whether in academic faculty meeting or in classroom interaction. Spender and Herring suggest a social expectation for this studies: even if women only speak as much as men they are perceived as being too verbose. DeFrancisco’s study of married couples at home found that in this domestic space, women talk more than men. This shows that it is important for analysts not only who talks less than the other but also the reason why. When there is a disparity it means there is a “speaker dominance”.

Turn taking and interruption Lot of evidence confirm the existence of gender differences with respect to turn-taking practices. Zimmerman and West showed that men interrupt women systematically in mixed-sex interaction. But some scholars such as James and Clarke argue in their works that the majority of studies don’t confirm this big gender difference in interruptions. How can this be explained? Gender isn’t the only factor that need to be taken into consideration, we can for example consider the status of the speakers. So a man who interrupts his wife probably would not interrupt his female boss. Interruption are different from Overlap, that is very short instances of simultaneous speech. Many instances of simultaneous speech can be considered supportive, for example the minimal response “mhm” could be a sign of active listenership.

Back channel support and minimal responses Usually women give more Back channel support in conversation. This comes in the form called Minimal response which are produced whilst the other person is speaking. Their function is often to signal to the speaker that the listener are still paying attention and to encourage them to continue speaking. But not all MR don’t function at the same way, in fact the could not be suppositive, in particular when they are produced with delay. These delayed MR may suggest that the audience is not paying attention.

Hedges There is a belief that women use more Hedges such as “well”, “you know”, “I think” and epistemic modal forms such as “should” “would”, “could”. These forms are said to function as “mitigation”. Several studies have found a gender difference with respect to hedges. However Hedges can have many functions and intonation have a very important role in a determining the function of hedges.

Deficit In her work on “woman language”, robin Lakoff argues that women’s language is made by a lack of assertiveness caused bu a self image which reflects women’s lack of access to social power. Lakoff’s aim is a feminist one, allowing women more access to power. However her suggestion that women would benefit from acquiring more neutral or male language implies that it’s women language which is in some way deficient.

Dominance The dominance Theory argues that spoken language reflects social gender inequality. West and Zimmerman work provides a very close analysis of mixed-sex interaction, focusing on interruptions and overlaps, linking women’s speaking rights to those of children. Studies suggest that man are more dominant than women in mixed-sex interaction.

Difference The difference theory sees gender differences caused by norms and practices associated with what is described as two different women’s and men’s subcultures. Maltz and Barker comes to the conclusion that boys and girls are socialize into different behaviors, with boys group being organized in a much more hierarchical way. The resulting communicative patterns are the miscommunication between women and men.

Social constructionist According to this theory, women and men speak the way they do because they are “Constructing” themselves as feminine and masculine in their talk. Not only gender is important in this context because other factors also influence how individuals speak in a specific situation. Speakers can construct their identities according to the situation they find in.

CHAPTER 6 - Language and ethnicity

What we mean by ethnicity? Ethnos is a Greek word which means nation, meaning a group commonly descended from the same place. Edward in his book “Multilinguism” gives a definition of ethnic: “ethnic identity is allegiance to a group with which one has ancestral links”. Minority is one of the most familiar collocations for ethnic. Thus we only use the term “ethnic” to describe minority groups and so the connotations of the terms become linked to these group. Which we describe in terms of ethnicity is very often the other. Edward distinguishes between objective and subjective definitions. Discussing the former he is referring to linguistic social, geographical and religious ethnic. Ethnicity can also be defined by people who believe themselves to be part of the same group, and we can say that the language a person speaks is often the most important marker of ethnicity.

How many languages? Countries such as USA or UK are predominantly monolingual countries. In other countries or continent, speaking more than one language is a fact of life, so most people are bilingual or multilingual. If a bilingual is someone who speaks or more languages at what level of competence do they need to be able to speak it in order to be called bilingual? It may require being able to function in that language in everyday life or maybe one needs to be fluent in a language variety before you can be called a bilingual. There are vary studies towards multilingualism. To be able to speak several languages is viewed positively. If a person is multilingual this may provide them with a great deal of cultural capital.

One only English The fact that two variety have the same name English, does not mean they are the same. One example of this is in William Labov’s work “The logic of no standard English”. In this work he argues that AAVE (African American vernacular English) is not a substandard of English but a language with its own system, rules, grammar and logic. No standard varieties, are often spoken by ethnic minorities. The parallels in power are clear. The

dominant ethnicity’s language is also dominant, so the minority and their language are granted at best second place.

Ethnicity and racism It’s important to make a distinction between race and ethnicity. The former is physical and the latter is socio-cultural. Racism is the way of describing prejudices against the ethnic other. Teun Van Dijk defines racist discourse as form of discriminatory social practice that manifests itself in text, talk and communication. Van Dijk argues that there are two form of racist discourse: 1. racist discourse directed at ethnically different others 2. racist discourse about ethnically differently others He identifies three topic classes when speaking about the other: deviance (deviazione), threat (minaccia) and difference. He observes how people try to deny that they were racist by presenting themselves positively for example through the common utterance: “I'm not racist but..” and then speaking about an ethnicity group in negative terms.

Ethnolect Ethnicity is a sociolinguistic variable. Now we are going to look at Scott Kiesling’s work on wogspeak. Wog is a term used in Australia to refer to migrants from Italy and the Mediterranean area. In the mid-twentieth century, significant numbers of Italian and Greek workers arrived in Australia. Kiesling took data from an interview where the interviewer was a Greek Australian student. He examined number of morphology and phonetic variables on the backness (refers to vowel where the tongue is placed at the back of the mouth) and the openness (a feature of vowels where the tongue is low in the mouth) of vowels and the influence on vowels of HRT, the High Rising Terminal. HRT is used to describe the way a speakers intonation will go up at the end of word. In particular he examined such as at the end of “better” to see if it was more open. He notes that the length on the sound “er” is longest for Greek-Australian speakers.

What makes an authentic ethnicity? Identities based on ethnicity sometimes have to be ratified by other members of the group. But whether this will be accepted by other members or that group will depend on what kind of evidence I can provide for this. I might claim an ethnicity based on where my parents were born, wearing certain clothes, having bodily markings, for example. Identities and ethnic are not singular nor are they stable. Identities are also ranked on a hierarchical scale or linked to ideologies of a certain group. Labov's concept is “cover prestige” that acknowledges some speech communities, that don't have much power in relation with the dominant ones, values different kind of speaking, often involving non- standard varieties (such as AAVE).

Different discourses of authenticity Petra Scott Schenk examines how individuals claim a Mexican ethnicity, focusing on the contemporary sociolinguistic theme “what is authenticity”. She argues that positioning

oneself as authentic often depends on positioning the other as inauthentic. She examined some students at a Californian university and their Spanish-English code- switching (moving from one language to another). Schenk writes in this data that Spanish linguistic proficiency, place of birth and purity of bloodline are evoked as ideological test for authenticity.

Language as a marker of ethnicity Competence in a language is common as a discourse to claim ethnicity as well as a resource to display it. Satori interviewed a woman who had been born and brought up in London but who claim to be Welsh. Her parents were Welsh and they had brought her up with Welsh as her first language. “I think Welsh have a very deep-seated sense of culture […] Welsh is the oldest living language in Europe” she says. For her, foregrounded that is essential to claim her ethnicity.

Understanding “misunderstanding” John Gumperz's seminal work in the 1970s focused on how speakers from different ethnic backgrounds misunderstood one another and in which way. HRT can for example being associated with misunderstanding. Gumperz examine the relations in a staff cafeteria at a British airport where work some Asian women. He understood that the intonation and the manner of the women were interpreted negatively. “If one of them offers some gravy, she doesn't say that with a rising intonation, but with a falling one, so other people think it is a statement rather than a question.

Code-switching and crossing We use code-switching when we use two or more codes within a conversation or a utterance. There are a variety of reason why a speaker may switch codes: it may relate to the topic or occur if the person who we're speaking to can only use a particular code. therefore it can also indicate solidarity or exclusion. Code/language-Crossing, instead describes the practice of using language varieties that are associated with ethnic groups that the speaker doesn't belong to. Rampton's research study involved two years of ethnographic field-work with teenagers in a South Midlands town in England. He recorded conversations and interviews finding that there were three different contexts where crossing occurred: when the teenagers interacted with adults; when they were with their peers; listening to bhangra music, very influential among young people in the neighborhood.

CHAPTER 7 – Language and age

Age as a factor in language variation Age-related differences in vocabulary are often the ones most easily noticed by people, but there are more other less obvious linguistic differences and features for all ages. Suzuki has proposed that Japanese young people's interest in American and European

popular culture as well as their greater use of the text-messaging has resulted an increase of foreign loan words and changes to the writing system with a decrease in the use of Chinese characters for the Western ones. In the last twenty-five years there has been a growing on researches which focuses on language changes in individuals over the course of their lives, in a diachronic way, instead of examinating different age group at various point in time, in a synchronic way. We can hear a change in the Queen Elisabeth's pronunciation, especially in her vowels, that reflects a general change in the British accent over the last fifty years. Sankoff proposes that for many older speakers, exposure to young adults may lead to them adopting the changes to avoid sounding old fashioned.

How can a language reflect the status of children and older people ? Childhood and old age are often viewed as particularly problematic life stages, requiring special attention. There are the term “pediatrician” and “geriatrician” for doctors specialized in treating children and elderly, but no for doctors who concentrate on 20 to 60 years old. Franklin has pointed out that the term child was originally used to describe anyone of low status regardless of their age. While over-65s have more legal independence than children there is a restriction: the physical limitations. Some of the label for over65 make reference to this aspect. While children are seen as an investment because one day they will become productive, old people are often seen as no longer capable. Butler suggested that ageism reflects the fear of disability, powerlessness and finally of death. But medical advances allowing many more people to have a healthy and active old age could also change this ageism. Talking to young children and the elderly During the first years of life children 's language takes it characteristic from the fact they are apprentice, so their grammar is in the process of acquiring and their voice is quite high. The over65 instead are experienced language users but their hearing become less acute as they get older and this can lead to a reduced understanding. Moreover the elderly voice in recognizable because of its weakness. This features can lead to stereotypes which may or may not be true of that particular person.

Child direct language CDL sometimes called baby talk is a special style used in speech to young children and has been extensively studied. It has several characteristics, for example: • calling the child by name often using a pet name • shorter grammatically simpler sentences • more repetitions and more use of questions • use of baby talk's words CDL also has a characteristic sound: • higher pitch and exaggerated intonation • slower speech with clearer pronunciation • more pauses between phrases

Similarities between CDL and Elder Directed Language Coupland reviewed several studies which confirm the similarity between CDL and the speech style which is often used whit the elderly. The similarities involve both the content (Simpler presence, more questions and repetitions) of talk and the sound of the talk (slower, louder, exaggerated intonation).There similarities in the way speakers interact whit young and elderly people, interrupting and overlapping them, and treating the person's contribution as irrelevant to the conversation.

Why might these similarities occur? One of the original explanation for the use of CDL was that parents used it as a language- teaching tool, thus some aspects of CDL could be of help to novice speakers. Nevertheless not all cultures use this type of talk with young children. Clancy observed that Japanese mother's speech to their children focused primarily on teaching politeness and communicative style, rather than on grammar and vocabulary. Why is CDL used in some cultures? One proposal is that one of its primary uses is to ensure understanding in someone who is not believed to be a fully competent language user. Its use could be therefore be closely connected to cultural expectations and stereotypes about people in these groups. Matched guise experiments have shown that speakers with an elderly voice tend to be rated as vulnerable and incompetent. Another explanation for the use of CDL is that it asserts the power of the caregiver in relation to the child, establishing the caregiver right to command compliance. Atkinson and Coupland have suggested that using CDL with the elderly people can reflect a strategy to marginalise them. Finally some aspects of CDL might reflect an attitude of affection towards the recipient and a willingness to accommodate to their needs. This an example of the phatic use of language.

CHAPTER 8 – Language and social class

What is social class Two companies have been identified as foundamental in determing the life-chances of an individual or group: the objective economic measures of property ownership and the power it gives to those who have it; second the more subjective measure of prestige, reputation and status. The simplest kind of social stratification is based on occupation categories, whit non manual occupations being rather higher than manual occupation. The main scheme proposed is:

1. Professional occupation 2. Managerial and technical occupation 3. Skilled occupation (non manual/manual) 4. Partly skilled occupations 5. Unskilled occupation

Thinking beyond occupation

Indian society is stratified into different castes. Casts are ranked, hereditary, closed social groups which, like social class, are often linked with occupation.

Social and regional variation Trudgill illustrates the relation between social and regional variation in India based on data form Kannada, a Dravidian language spoken In south India. The data show a selection of linguistic forms used by Brahmins, the highest caste, and the corresponding forms or variants of the speech of the lower castes in two towns: Bangalore and Dharwar. The examples show that the Bangalore and Dharwar forms are the same for the lower caste. The Brahmin cast has forms which are not only different from the other castes, but also from each other in the two towns. This means that the higher caste forms are a subject to more regional variation to the lower caste form: social differences in language use are greater than regional differences. Let’s compare the situation in India with that in England. Variation in pronunciation is accents. Speakers at the top of social scale tend to pronounce the words they use with the same accent, roughly, Received Pronunciation, regardless of their regional background. The further we move down the social class scale, the greater spread of regional pronunciation we find. The more heterogeneous or diverse a society is, the more heterogeneous or varied its language.

Variationist sociolinguistics In the early 1960s W. Labov conducted a survey of the relationship between social class and linguistic variation in new York city. He defined social stratification by the prestige of the three department store he investigated: Saks, Macy’s and Klein’s. Labov assumed that by selecting stores from the top to the bottoms of the price scale he could expect first that the costumers would be socially stratified and second that the sales people in each of the department store would reflect this in their speech styles. The second assumption is based on sociological resource with suggest that sales people and cashiers tend to borrow prestige from their costumers. Labov wanted to find out whether the presence of absence of a pronounced “r” in words such as car, floor, fourth was determined by speakers social class. In NY city the prestige variety has post vocalic “r” and lack of the feature is associated with less prestigious ways of speaking. If you’re English it’s important to note that this situation is the reverse. In UK the prestige accent RP is “r”-less: Car in pronounced /ka:/.

Trudgill’s Norwich study Trugill investigated the relation between language use and social class in Norwich . He set up a social class index based on occupation, income, education and housing. His primary aim was to find out whether social factors play a part in the way the people of Norwich speak. He assumed that the higher a person’s social class, the closer to prestige variety their speech would be. Like Labov he assumed that speakers tend to shift towards the prestigious variety when paying more attention to their speech. Based on this Trudgill elaborated Labov’s distinction between casual and careful style and created situations of varying degrees of formality. He examined several linguistic variables to explore the

correlation between social class and linguistic variation. One of them was the realisation of third person singular verb’s form with no third person singular marker (he go, rather than he goes). Another feature he was interested in was the way in which speakers pronounced ‘- ing’ at the end of words. He found that the higher the social class of the speaker the more likely they were to say, for example singing rather than singin. All the sociolinguistic investigations illustrate that the higher a person position on the social scale the closer their linguistic variety is to the prestige norms. An other interesting point suggested by classic studies is that when speakers wish to, the can change the way they speak in accordance with the demand of the situation.

New directions in research on linguistic variation and social practice Mylroy’s investigation on working class networks in northern Ireland focused on the meaning and function that local everyday forms of speech have for small territorially communities. She analysed local Networks: the strength of networks depends on the degree to which the people who formed them all know each other (density) and on the extent to which individuals are bound to one another by more than one relationship (plexity); for example two people might friends and workmates. The communities of practice are groups of people that form to share what they know to learn form one another, to contribute to a commune purpose.

Eckert’s Belten high study

Penelope Eckert spent two years familiarizing her self with the social landscape in suburban Detroit high schools, to do ethnographic resources . In all the schools she observed a strong opposition between the Jocks and the Burnouts. The former are school oriented and embody the middle class culture, the latter are locally oriented end embody working class culture. She observed that the distinction between them could realistically be judged to affect linguistic behavior. The linguistic variables she focused on are vowels. She concluded that the use of extreme raising is inseparable form the construction of burnout identity.

CHAPTER 9 - Language and identity What is identity? Identity is commonly thought of as one’s conception of self in the world something stable. Looking at an individual’s language use reveals that we all have multiple identities. It’s useful to think of these identities in terms of the different relationship we have with

people, thus we have identities as friend ,as student ,as colleagues etc. The way we present to the world is relevant to the concept of identity, and we have control over only some parts of our identity. Agency is the control that a person can exercise in presenting him to others. We can talk about this control over certain aspects of presentation of individual as “agentive”, that is, the parts of our identity we have control over can be said agentive. Social factors such as age, ethnicity, gender are more o less agentive depending on the ideology of the culture in which you live. Age in Western cultures is, in one sense, an unambiguously (inequivocabilmente) a non agentive factor of identity. One definition of age is absolute, determined by birth day. Behaviors which are seen as acceptable for one age group, is practiced by another are viewed as transgressive and sometime illegal. Pierre Bordieu sets out the concept of symbolic capital, or the prestige that individuals gain based on the way they present themselves and through their relationship with others. So those who conform to what society thinks is the natural way of behaving have more power. Bordieu calls Symbolic violence the negative repercussion of displaying behaviors that are not valued by your culture. In particular this concept describes the actions taken to disempower those who do not conform to their majority culture’s ideologies.


Using certain pronunciations, terms or grammatical constructions can mark out individuals as being from a certain class, geographic area, ethnicity, gender or age group. If we consider geography first, we can see how linguistic identities begin to emerge. Dialectologists define geographic dialect boundaries by looking for bundles of isoglosses. An isogloss is an idealised geographic boundary between the use of one linguistic variable or feature and another. However, isoglosses mark variation in speech rather than being territorial boundaries. For example, in Rhode Island, the word for a drinking fountain is "Bubbla". Speakers in the neighboring dialect regions wouldn't use this term, the transition area from bubbla to drinking fountain would form an isogloss. Thus those who hear me use bubbla can categories me.

Naming The way in which we negotiate the world through language is by what we choose to call ourselves. Often names consist of a label to show who is closely related to an individual, a label that is unique to that individual. In many cultures special rituals are carried out to officially name children, welcoming them into that culture. For example in Greek culture names reflect gender in fore and surnames. Children receive their father's surname, and special endings are added to the child's surname if she is a girl. In Arabic culture father of may be appended to a man's name if he becomes a father.

Access to naming Typically if the interlocutor is closer to you he will use a less formal version of your name. If someone wants to show social distance or separates would probably would do the opposite. Name use may be asymmetrical when those involved want to make power

relationship obvious. Those with less power will use titles, and politeness markers when addressing those who they perceive to have more power. Speakers may attempt to manipulate social distance through terms of address. So a beggar could try to reduce social distance from a person to gain some money using the address "mate".

Social relations and grammatical form Each language and culture chooses to encode certain social relationships grammatically, either through morphology or special vocabulary. In some languages the act of trying to get someone's attention from afar involves use of a specific case, the special form is the "vocative". It is a special marker that tells the named person they are being searched for.

Pronouns, politeness and power Relationships can also be encoded through use of special pronouns. Some languages allow for a polite and informal distinction amongst second person pronouns. The choose of a informal or formal pronouns depends on the relationship with an individual and if you want to show him solidarity or not. Pronouns can also be a way of creating and reinforcing group identities and displaying power. For example a doctor or a teacher could use the pronoun we to metaphorically take more authority.

Language variation: Style Knowing language norms let you become aware that certain types of talk are prestigious. You change the way you talk to conform to the language norms of the context you find in. Adopting a style which has prestige in a domain can be a way of attempting to gain power in that domain. Peter Trudgill looked at the americanisation of accent for British performers during the 1960-70. He noted that at the start of their careers, group such as the rolling stones used dialect features such as post vocalic "r". HE found that American English had Prestige in the domain of rock and roll and adopting features of American English may have been a way to success in that domain. Theories of style shifting Labov explained style in relation to the attention paid to speech by the speakers, usually the less attention paid, the more informal the situation. Alan Bell showed that attention paid to speech was not enough to explain style shifting and developed a theory of audience design. His study of the language used by DJs working in a New Zealand radio station showed that the same individual, when broadcasting to a local audience, was more likely to use different pronunciations of "t" than when they were broadcasting to a national audience. The expectation the DJs had for what their audience were used to hearing in a local or national context was enough to change the pronunciations those DJs used. Thus, Bell argued that the DJs associated certain pronunciations whit certain types of audiences. In less formal contexts such as a local show, DJs wanted to show solidarity whit local vernacular speakers, thus they used the linguistic form they associated with that group. Important is the definitions give by giles and powesland about Accommodation:" adjusting the way one speaks to be more like a real or imagined interlocutor. Not always speakers change their style to accommodate the audience. So a

speaker can change his style to show affinity with a group or he may adopt the style of a group he wishes to be seen as a member of. Toward style shifting is possible to create many identities according to how the speaker wants to be perceived. Production of group identities Quantitative sociolinguists find that around the world, language variation can be associated with identity features. Generally, individuals who come together to perform some behavior or engage in a common activity form a community of practice, where they create their social identity. Part of this activity is related to language use. Labov examined the language of gang members and finding that for gang members in New York City, those on the periphery of the gang used fewer linguistic features associated with gang culture than those in core social positions. Another nice example of how language can be used to delineate group identity comes from sign language practices used in Northern Ireland by the Protestant and Catholic deaf community. Use one or the other sign languages correlates here which religion they belong to.

CHAPTER 10 - Language standardi[s/z]ation

Language Planning How do we get individual language users to agree uncommon forms? When a culture goes about standardising a language, according to Haugen first a language variety is selected which means that spellings, pronunciation and grammatical constructions are fixed or codified. Language professionals, educators, editors and linguists are involved in corpus planning . Once forms are selected and codified by these expert elite the domain of use for those forms is expanded: when the spoken form of one community is chosen as the new national written standard , all the nation will need to accept and then begin using it in new contexts. Haugen calls this elaboration of function. The consequence of selection of variety and codification of form is that positive associations are made with the variety selected; the appropriateness of that variety for use in high culture contexts comes to be seen as natural. Arguments are created to support the pure logic and beauty of the variety. A further consequence of selecting a variety and elevating it to the position of standard is that users of other varieties become disenfranchised, those varieties are considered inappropriate and acquire negative associations.


In the aftermath of European colonialism, languages such as English began to be spoken by groups with increasingly loose cultural ties to Europe. The reason that standardisation variants came about is linked to American nations building. Once the USA established itself as politically free from UK, there was social space available for creating new language standards. America did not need to look to England for its government and in a similar way was free to develop language norms. The nation of Ireland, Canada, USA,

Australia and new Zeeland are classed by Kachru as inner circle nations. He notes these nations can develop norms of English, acquire the language natively, and claim ownership rights over the language. Outer circle nations, in Kachru’s design, are those which are norm developing, where English is acquired as a native language but in competition with local languages which have official status and are used by the population regularly. Nations where English is used as a lingua franca, but do not have official status are deemed expanding circle nations. LA LINGUA FRANCA is a language that is not native to either speaker or listener but is used for communication where learning one native language in not practical. Usually expanding circle nations depend upon inner circle and don t claim ownership over the language.

Main points

Linguistic imperialism: is the imposition of one culture’s language upon another culture. This frequently coincides with increased social power for the linguistically dominant group. The spread of major languages of international business and commerce, mean speakers shift away from less powerful languages. When a language dies, a particular view on interpreting the world is lost. This lost coincides with the loses of status for speakers of a minority language. When a nation is under the yoke on linguistic imperialism , access to education, legal services may be unavailable to minority speakers.

Diglossia: When there are two varieties of a language, the high variety and the low variety, used in the same speech community. The higher variety is formally learnt and not used for everyday interaction.

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